Friday, December 26, 2014

Thank you!

This year, I would like to thank the underpaid Chinese manufacturing workers - the real Santa's elves - for their unrecognized hard work in producing majority of the products my kids asked Santa to bring them. I would also like to thank the never-before-included-or-mentioned sailors on transoceanic merchant ships - the real reindeer - for delivering the said goods to our stores. I would also like to wholeheartedly thank us, the parents, grandparents and the like - the real Santa Claus - for indulging in the fantasy and enabling our childrens imagination to run wild and run our hard earned money right out of our pockets. An all for the sake of getting the best Christmas present of all - our children's smiling, lit-up faces and unrestrained joy they radiate when they open the presents on Christmas morning. “For it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child Himself.” 

“God bless us, every one!”

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Nothing good comes easily

At this exact time a year ago, I was lying in a delivery room bed, hooked on a few of IV lines and blissfully void of pain. One was pushing antibiotics into my bloodstream which, at first, gave me a terrible itching sensation on my forehead and in the back of my neck, and made me and my doctor realize for the first time I had a syndrome with very unfortunate name of "red man" a.k.a. "red neck". Apparently, that particular "flavor" of antibiotics doesn't sit well with some of us who are obliged to take it. It's "to die of" (In extreme cases)!
The other was pumping the love hormone into my body which "plays a crucial part in enabling us to not just forge and strengthen our social relations, but in helping us to stave off a number of psychological and physiological problems as well [... and] is proving to be a crucial ingredient to what makes us human" (to learn more about why oxytocin "is simply the most incredible molecule on the planet", visit:, but which also produces some serious side-effects when overdosed - namely, huge powerful contractions. Men, don't say no one warned you if you decide to try the nasal spray!
The third IV was giving me the stuff that would make me forget the first two. I just had to press the button. The road to Nirvana is paved with epidural.

And finally, after 20 hours in delivery and many out-of-this-world moments and unbelievable coincidences, our baby boy was born adding to our blessings. But what is striking to me the most is that out of five deliveries, four of which resulted in live births, I remember this one most vividly and to the greatest level of detail. It was magical for so many remarkable reasons (and I promise you that epidural is NOT one of them!).

Happy first birthday, my love! May God grant you many blessed years and a fulfilling life.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Old woman and "ushtiptsee"

IntroductionUĹĄtipci (pronounced "ushtiptsee") are doughnut-like fried dough balls popular in Bosnia and HerzegovinaCroatiaMacedonia and Serbia. For a recipe, check There is a saying in Serbian: "K'o o cemu, baba o ustipcima". It basically has the same use as Cato the Elder's famous phrase "Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam". In other words, no matter what the conversation is about, old woman/grandmother (or "baba") will revert to talking about "ushtiptsee", because it is something she knows about and something that is important to her, something that makes her happy.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, but last night I didn't feel very grateful. For the second night in a row, my baby kept me awake for over an hour on top of me coming back from work around 10 pm and finding my other three kids still awake next to their sleeping dad. The best way to get you to understand my state of mind, I will admit that, at one point early this morning, I was contemplating on how having four kids might be a tad too much to deal with so I should start giving them away as Christmas presents one by one until I hit the quantity I can comfortably deal with. Right after I realised that probably wouldn't fly with unwilling recipients of the said presents, I briefly contemplated suicide by diabetes induced by stuffing myself at once with all the Halloween sweets children didn't eat yet (we still have 3 full bags left), but then I realized that is more likely to put me in a coma than to death. *Sigh* I'll never become a criminal mastermind... That's when God sent me an angel to sit with me and hold my hand until I went from stupid-for-a-reason to it's-not-as-bad-as-it-seems.

And so with baby finally asleep and me finally wide awake at 3:30 this morning, my mind wandered to some happier, more hopeful thoughts. I started counting my "ushtiptsee".

  • One of them actually happened a week and a half ago: I personally met John Connolly! If you do not know who this amazing writer is, start reading his books this instant! I was so filled with happy buzz after meeting him, talking to him, that I couldn't shake the giddiness off for days (not that I wanted to, either). Still, every time I think about it or listen to the CD he made for those of us who came to his book promotion, I smile with exultation.
  • Next, my baby boy's first birthday is coming up! Oh, the joy of watching the progress this little guy has made in such a short time! Oh, the joy of seeing him walk, and climb, and sing, and ride scooter with his sister! Oh, the joy of getting rid of baby formula and bottles!
  • The third installment of "The Hobbit"! Need I say more? I hope Peter Jackson continues the Tolkien streek. There is still "The Children Of Hurin" to put to screen!
  • The annual sources of joy, family reunion and broken bank: new calendar Christmas, New Year, old calendar Christmas and Serbian New Year! All happily situated in the space of 3 weeks. And to ensure I sleep even less, our household will contain 9 people during that time. Well, "contain" may not be the right word...
  • BBC is coming out with another masterpiece, the adaptation of Susanna Clarke's "Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell". Now this one is a tricky one, like freshly fried "ushtiptsee" that are just too hot to eat. "Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell" is an exceptional piece of writing, and the book is masterfully read by the legendary Simon Prebble. His interpretation of the book is so well done that I am afraid to watch anybody else interpreting the characters from the book. But then again, I was afraid to watch anybody else play Sherlock Holmes after Jeremy Brett, and look at the marvel of Benedict Cumberbatch's! We'll see...
  • And then, right on the verge of spring, my beautiful daughters, my brightest stars, will have their birthdays two days apart! I dread to think what they'll ask for this time, but I know that, no matter how much I protest, I will probably do as they ask just to revel in their happiness.
So... After all, I have a heartful of blessings to be thankful about :)

PS Just in case you were wondering whether I am referring to myself as an "old woman" in the title of this post, let me tell you that that depends on the day of the week. If you ask me on Monday - after I had time to catch up on sleep, food and regular use of the bathroom - if I feel old, I would reply: "Certainly not! I am in my prime!" But if you ask me on Friday - after I've been steamrolled by day-to-day life for four days - I would reply: "I see dead people!"

Me and Mr. Connolly :)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Morning edition with a three-year-old

I had quite an entertaining morning with my daughter this morning. What beautiful and silly story we made! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did :)

We were on our way to the daycare, and saw a white dog with its owner at the traffic light. I remarked how the dog looks just like the white golden retriever we used to have (that, sadly, passed away two years ago), except it has shorter hair.
My daughter: Yes, mommy, you had that dog before I was born.
Me: Yes, I did!
My daughter: That's when I lived somewhere else!
Me - laughing heartily: No, love, before you were born you lived in daddy's and my hearts, and then you came to my tummy, and then you were born.
My daughter: Yes, because I was bored.
Me - laughing even more: Yes, you told me you were bored and you wanted to come out and play with your siblings!
My daughter: Silly mommy, I didn't talk when I was a baby; I said goo-goo ga-ga!
Me: Yes, but I didn't understand what that means. But you also started kicking my tummy, and so I thought: Hmm, I know what this means! My baby wants to come out!
My daughter: Yes. And how did I come out?
Me: Well, I screwed up my face like this (imagine my face here), and pushed as if I'm about to poop.
My daughter - giggling: Yes, and I went into the toilet and then you flushed it!
Me - laughing hard: Yes, and then you went to see the Ninja Turtles in the sewers and eat pizza with them.
My daughter - still giggling: And you came for me.
Me: I did! I knew you didn't have any teeth yet, so you wouldn't be able to eat pizza and would be very hungry. So I asked the Ninja Turtles politely to give you back to me so you can drink milk from me.
My daughter: Yes, and I drank a lot, because I was very thirsty!

We both laughed hilariously by this point :) One Direction were playing "You don't know you're beautiful" in the background, and she switched the subject telling me how she only listens to 1D in the car, and that she has to listen to them in the morning and sing and dance in order to wake up the sun!

It was my turn to change the subject and I reminded her how her baby brother's first birthday is coming up, and after short discussion on the subject of the birthday cake (yes, you guessed it - she suggested Ninja Turtles cake), I asked her who should we invite to the party. She started naming her daycare pals and said:

My daughter: We need to tell their moms and dads to drop them off and leave, because I love playing with my friends.
Me: I don't think that's a good idea...
My daughter - interrupting: I think that's a good idea, because I want to play with my friends.
Me - getting back to what I was saying: I don't think that's a good idea, but their moms and dads can stay with me in the kitchen.
My daughter: Yes, they can stay with you and daddy and drink tea.
Me: There you go!
My daughter: You can have tea, too!
Me - laughing: Thank you, love.
My daughter: You can also have one coffee!

And there we were, parking in front of the daycare, where the conversation took turn to how she drank so much food this morning that she couldn't possibly eat any snack :D

Ahhh, conversations with three-year-olds are so inspiring and invigorating :D If I were a doctor, I would prescribe them!

Monday, October 20, 2014

I don't know how is it with you, my dear lady readers, but the first day of my menstrual cycles is inescapably always EPIC! Point by point, although the order doesn't really matter - all these happen in sequence and often simultaneously:

1. My sex hormones go into overdrive; it takes about as long as for my eyelids to lift when I wake up on the morning of the first day, to go from your normal hormonal levels to "How'ya doing there, cowboy?" (using my best sassy tone here)! (Un)luckily, the object of my unashamed hormones and I both work and/or are surrounded by our kids when the craziness hits :)
2. I. Must. Have. Chocolate. Now! A lot of it! And whoever speaks ill of it, I shall strike them with my mighty glower and mouth full of chocolate, chewing fiercely! I would try to add growling for more dramatic effect, but I am afraid of any chocolate escaping my mouth. That would be unbearable! No chocolate left behind!
3. No focus. Absolutely none! ...Except for... you know... that thing (Re-read point number one). And chocolate :) And they say teenagers have a narrow focus. Ha!
4. I have crazy amount of energy! Work, mommy duties, multitasking, house work, you name it - bring it on!
5. Unpredictable mood. If I am in a good mood on that particular day - lucky are all the people around me, but if not - run for cover. Good mood means my kids will be allowed extra chocolate and ice-cream, and the girls and I will be dancing to teenage pop, and my son and I will be watching an adventure-filled PG-13 movie after that. Bad mood means my kids quietly go to their bedroom, close the door and do whatever it takes to take themselves off my radar. My baby is the only one whose happiness doesn't depend on my mood, because he is still a baby. There is this "safety mechanism" that I believe all moms possess in their brains when it comes to babies. I think it has to do with their absolute cuteness :) And then I spend the next day feeling guilty and apologizing. Lucky for all of us, bad-mood first days don't happen often :)

Day two, and I'm back to my whimpering-mother self :)

Friday, October 10, 2014

I don't feel like working; there'll be no working today!

It's Friday and I feel like weekend should have started yesterday. It's been a... hectic week. Who am I kidding? Every week during a school year is a hectic one! Even during school breaks - which our school district can't seem to get enough of - you still have to take your kids to camps and probably the usual extracurricular activities, because most of them only stop on holidays. Why do driver's lessons start at 16? I think my son could handle it at 10 :) Or, perhaps, I should attach a 19th century buggy to his bicycle and he can take his siblings to their sports activities! There is a spark of brilliance! And he would love it!... For about 30 seconds, at least :(

Well, good Friday everyone, and may your kids be ever in your favor!

"I don't feel like dancing" by Scissor Sisters

Sunday, August 3, 2014

If you just realize what I just realized

Hey, I'm on vacation, can you believe it! I'm visiting my in-laws in the town where I lived my first years here in the US. I am residing in the house where I got married, and sleep in the bedroom where my first two children slept their first nights out of the hospital. I cannot call those first years in the US "the good years", although certainly many beautiful memorable moments happened here - in this town, in this house, in this bedroom.

The first day of my vacation coincided with my 39th birthday. And today my children and I attended the liturgy at the Greek church in which my first-born had his churchening. The church that uplifted me and inspired me in my faith more than any other church I ever attended.

And tonight I realized something profundly important. There are no years in my whole life I can call "the good years". Not because they were all truly bad. The early years of my life were indeed bad. I was haunted by a monster whose happiness was built on an annual ritual of ruining me for a month or two, then retreat to whatever version of reality it built for itself in order to hide in plain sight among the crowds of everyday people. And so in that respit of ten to eleven months, I would build my own version of reality so that I, too, can be accepted as normal by the crowds of everyday people. And my coping mechanism, my building blocks were desire for life, faith in God, getting lost in worlds of books, and putting bad things in the past. So, what I realized is that it's the continuous use of that last type of blocks that messed me up and kept me from ever having "the good years". You see, I invested so much of myself, my energy, my abilities in building the past - more specifically, building the past by piling up all the bad things there that ever happened to me - that I never lived in the present and could not, therefore, construct a future, which was always something I could only imagine and hope for. And so how could I have ever had "the good years" when most of what I remember are bad things? And even those infrequent good things I do remember, instead of filling me with happiness and inspiration, fill me with deep sadness, because they feel like the glimpses of what my life should have been, not like a part of what my life actually was.

Well I'm done with that futile and pointless work. I am 39 years old, and my today starts - today. For the first time in my life I am not hoping for a future. I know I am having one.

"Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme"

Thursday, June 26, 2014

An observation

Due to a massive GM recall, I have been obliged to drive a rented Yukon XL temporarily. What I have learned so far from the experience is that you can't be a badass in a Yukon. I normally drive a Chevy Traverse and, although, granted, you can't be a badass in a Chevy Traverse either, you can be a badass mom in one. I was hoping the rental place was going to give me a Tahoe, but instead I ended up with a construction vehicle... Hurry up, GM! I need my badass mom mojo back!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Welcome to the jungle

I am yet to find a good way to consistently put my kids to bed on time. Please, someone tell me: is that even possible? I mean, what does it even mean "good way"? You know those movies and shows in which kids obey immediately when you tell them it's time to go to bed, and then lie in bed with closed eyes and a blissful smile listening to you reading them the story? Well, that script didn't come from my household :( It seems to me that the later the hour of the day the louder I become! 

On top of that, my sole weapon against tiredness, every parent's best friend, my daily companion - coffee - betrayed me! Continuous consumption messes up my stomach something fierce and so - woe is me! - I am forced to give it up :( Rhodiola, I'm coming back to you.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Just asking...

... Is there an off button for a baby crying at night? I know it's my fourth time around and I should know by know, but still...

PPD is kicking in, and in moments of extreme fatigue - which I've been having continuously for the past 3 nights and days - my one-month-old baby is begining to lose his God-given charm. As you know, I am looking for humor in every situation, but in this one my brooding mind and weeping heart might need a microscope to find some. You see, my son wasn't born a sucker (pun intended). He would latch, take a few gulps and fall in a blissful sleep. Naturally, I did everything the nurses and lactation consultant at the hospital told me to do - while nursing play with his feet, with his ears, with his jaw, undress him so he's cold - but nothing worked. So, since he wasn't gaining enough weight, I had to start adding some formula in order to have time to pump my own milk. And now, between pumping, feeding my baby, feeding myself (not to mention raising my other three amigos), I fear the sense of drowning looming on horizon.

And just before you ask, my hubby is not of much help primarily because he spends most of the day at work and the night sound asleep so he can be ready for the said work the next day. I'm the one with the rabbit's hearing in our house, and can hear my kids burping in the other room in the middle of the night, let alone calling and asking for something be it in a form of whispering or shouting or, as it were, baby's cry.

As my friend once posted on Facebook, I'm rolling with the punches. And rolling, and rolling...