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Getting to Know You Series (Part 2)

Hi everyone!

I hope you’ve all had a lovely weekend.

I am happy to share an interview with a beloved member of our community Maria. She and her son Phillipos bring so much warmth into our Friends Corner family.

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  1. Please tell us a little bit about you and your family.

My name is Maria and I live in Athens with my husband Harris and Philippos. We are now expecting our little lady to arrive in spring. I have been working in the UK for a couple of years as a trainee doctor in Pediatrics and I am currently doing a masters in child and youth mental health and development. In my spare time, I love music, gardening and reading books. Harris is a gastroenterology trainee doctor, currently working in Aliveri City in Evoia. Philippos is now 19 months old and has been an active FC fellow since he was 8 months. He is a talkative little man who enjoys reading books, drawing and listening to Lily’s music.

  1. How did you hear about Friends Corner? What made you interested in our group?

We had just come back to Greece from the UK when we came across Vicki in a cafe in Glyfada and she then invited us in Friends Corner. After visiting FC for a couple of times we realised that this place was ideal for our family spirit. We loved it as it offers the sense of community, the feeling that you are not alone raising your child. We also liked the structured programme with a combination of age-appropriate activities and free play. Last but not least, the fact that both parents and children join in activities is unique and to be honest we found it really hard to find places like this around Athens.

  1. What were your first impressions of FC?

I found Friends Corner and the people very warm and friendly from the beginning and I was impressed by how inspired mums and dads were to create activities for their children. I also liked the whole atmosphere of team work and helping each other.

  1. How has Philippos’ experience been so far? What interests him most about the place?

I definitely believe that Philippos is so familiar now with FC and he thinks of it as a second home by now. He loves the play dough, drawing and is crazy with the balls in the garden. Not to mention that he talks about Lily (the music teacher) and her helmet every day!

  1. What appeals most to you about FC as a mother?

I feel that in Friends Corner I have the opportunity to spend some quality time with Philippos and to communicate with people at the same time. It is also so nice to see Philippos interacting with other children and getting so much stimuli. It is wonderful this feeling of socialising and community that Friends Corner offers.

  1. Please share one especially memorable moment you remember from your time at FC so far.

Everyday is unique in Friends Corner. One nice moment that I enjoy so much daily is sitting in the sofa and reading books with Philippos, Leonidas and Orpheas.

 

I thank Maria for taking the time to share her thoughts with us.

Have a happy week everyone. We hope to see you at FC soon!

Warmly,

Evie

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Sensory Class is Back!

Hello friends!

We are so pleased to welcome back our Active Babies Sensory Class to Friends Corner.

Ioanna and her partner Gogo bring so much energy and joy into our playhouse during this activity.

The children seem to enter into a world of fantasy and wonder once it gets going.

 

There were pom poms and music!

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Musical instruments and snuggles!

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Storytelling!

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We always love seeing the kids so enthused and engaged.

Join us next Thursday for Active Babies Sensory Class. It will be another lovely day.

 

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Getting to Know You Series

Hello friends,

We are happy to say that October has been quite the happy month in our neck of the woods.

Many new families have joined our community. It’s been a pleasure getting to know fellow parents and their children. My daughter talks about all of her new friends when she gets home. It’s so sweet!

We thought it would be a good idea to start a “Getting to Know You” series for us all to become better acquainted.

Each week we’ll speak with a new member.

This week, we asked new member Hara to tell us a bit about herself and her daughter Elektra.

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1. Please tell us a little bit about you and your family.

Hello! I’m Hara, Electra’s mum. We are new to the FC family which has delighted us both so far, so first of all we would like to thank you all for such a warm welcome! We live in Vari with our dad Panos and Electra is now 19 months old. I am an English tutor but since I had Electra I dedicate most of my time with her, so I only have a few hours of lessons per week now. Panos works long hours, including Saturdays, so Electra and I spend most of the day together. I would like to thank you all for such a warm welcome! We live in Vari with our dad Panos and Electra is now 19 months old. I am an English tutor but since I had Electra I dedicate most of my time to her, so I only have a few hours of lessons per week now. Panos works long hours, including Saturdays, so Electra and I spend most of the day together.


2. How did you hear about Friends Corner?. What made you interested in our group?

I had been looking for some activity time with Electra for quite a while now, but hadn’t found anything appealing before I discovered FC. The first time I heard about FC was through a Facebook post by Elina ( Orfeas’mum) who is an old family friend. Soon after that my friend Calliopi also recommended it. She used to come to FC with her friend Elda who instructed baby yoga classes there. I remember her telling me:” don’t look into anything else, go straight to FC. You will love it there. The people are so much like us and it’s a lovely atmosphere!” And so it was.

3. What were your first impressions of FC?

I remember the first day we came in and everyone looked at us smiling and welcomed us in. The children also came to see Electra and welcomed her in their own special way. Evi immediately showed us around and it didn’t take long for us to feel at home and relaxed.
4. How has Elektra’s experience been so far? What interests her most about the playgroup?

Although Electra is going through a “let’s stay home” phase, she has been willing to leave home and go to FC and while as a toddler she is reluctant to meet new faces, I noticed that she was happy and at ease and seems more interested and involved every time. As she loves singing and listening to music, she got very excited with Lily and now after only two sessions, she mentions Lily at home almost every day now. It’s a coincidence that her first and only doll so far is named Lily, so I guess she felt an immediate connection there too. Now every time she wants us to sing a song, she says Lily and then moves her waist to dance!


5. What appeals most to you about FC as a mother?

I love the fact that you get involved straight away! I love the self-catered facility and the option of becoming a duty member. This gives mothers, fathers and caretakers the ability to be part of what’s going on, to share experiences and ideas. There’s no judgement, no uncomfortable moments and no discrimination between old members and new. There’s just familiarity and a relaxed atmosphere!


6. Please share one especially nice moment you remember from your time at FC so far.

A capturing image is definitely the one with our babies on our laps or beside us, when we all gather in the rear room to wait for an activity to begin. The room is filled with happy little faces and sparkling little eyes. Along with the little ones, dads, mums, nannies or grandparents all await in excitement to become little children again.

 

I will leave you all with that lovely image. 🙂

I thank Hara for talking the time to share her thoughts.

Hope to see you all this week at FC to participate in sensory play, music activities, and crafts.

 

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Meditations on Simplicity

Hi friends. I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend.

Today I planned to describe all the fun activities the kids participated in this week at Friends Corner. All the photos were uploaded. But my fingers froze at the keyboard-

I want to write about something else…bear with me.

This week I felt run down.

My daughter was waking up in the night again. I had a to-do list running in the back of my mind on a loop. I attempted frenetic multitasking in vain. This resulted in frustration and short tempers. We’ve all been there.

Thursday morning, I did not feel like getting dressed, getting my daughter dressed, and packing up her bag to go to Friends Corner. I wanted to do errands and tidy up. But we got dressed and packed our bag, and went…

And you know what? I’m glad we did.

Once I dropped our heap of items inside, Fay nuzzled up to me and asked me to read her a book. We snuggled and chose a story. Another parent dropped by and we had a heart to heart discussion. Later in the day, I observed Fay’s eyes come alive at the shape she managed to create out of play dough. I savored that small moment.

Friends Corner is a space in which I am separate from the dirty laundry, dirty dishes, smartphone email alerts, and scribbled to-do lists on the counter.

I am simply there, with my daughter.

Of course, none of us have the luxury of languid days and schedules!

Everyone’s life is different. Each family must evaluate their own priorities in order to arrange their own sense of balance and “down time” accordingly.

Some days, there is a real crisis, or an important deadline, sure.

But am I wrong when I say there are so many times when we can just let things go? To accept that there is no emergency even when it feels like there is one? To value slowness over efficiency?

I’ve been reading a book by counselor Kim John Payne entitled: “Simplicity Parenting.” The discussion and inspiration felt so timely for me.

 

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The book addresses the fast pace of our current lifestyles, and the overabundance of choices and stimulation. Payne asserts that such overstimulation leads to a sense of anxiety in the home. Families lose the peacefulness which fosters connection. He offers a model for change by outlining 4 areas to simplify: environment, schedules, rhythm, and media consumption.

When speaking to others who have read this book, I find that the message rings so true to our hearts. It validates our instincts that children thrive on connection- that they flourish with the space for discovery and reflection.And that we ourselves desperately need the kind of self-care that simplifying brings.

 

Payne says:

“What better reminder do we have than our kids of our own best selves, our less stressed and more carefree selves? In their silliness we see the echo of the way we used to be: when we were kids, yes, but also before we had kids, or even two weeks ago, before all of the stress of these year-end corporate meetings. Their joy, their infectious enthusiasm, their sense of “mission” as the poor dog is dressed in boxer shorts, cannot help but cajole you, and beckon you, to lighten up.”

I am grateful for the pause that Friends Corner gives to my day. I strive to allow for more pause in our home life.

Next week I promise to get back into our regular discussion of all the fun goings on at Friends Corner! We are so looking forward to Ioanna’s return on Thursdays for her Active Babies class.

 

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Exciting Developments at Friends Corner

Friends Corner has been undergoing a process of renewal in the past three months. I am pleased to share the positive and fresh developments in our community.

 

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Over the summer, we reorganized the playroom.  We have decluttered the space and deliniated stations for arts & crafts, imaginary play, building, and special baby spots. The materials have been placed at child’s eye level to be easily accessible. This emphasizes a sense of self sufficiency and self confidence for the kiddos.

Vicki, using her skills as an early learning educator, also developed a new weekly program.

Every morning Friends Corner will begin the day with a warm welcome and song time. Some days Maria and I may bring our guitars!

On Monday, our members will lead a Messy Play class. Sensory activities are a wonderful means for children to explore senses and celebrate their natural curiosity.

Tuesday, as always, we have our beloved Music with Lily class. Lily leads an hour of singing, dancing, and musical instrument playing. My daughter asks me all week when we will see Lily again!

Wednesday is Little Picasso Day. The children will use paints and/or crafts materials to explore the theme of the week and develop fine motor skills.

I am so happy to anounce that we are bringing back Active Babies with Ioanna on Thursdays! I have never seen the kids so active and enthusiastic as when Ioanna has her class going.

We close the week on Friday with the lovely Classic Babies activity. Babies and children will use ribbon banners and other objects to add motion to classical music. This exercise stimulates neural pathways and helps children process emotion. It’s also just plain fun!

Each day the activity will be followed by Clean Up & Story Time, then Free Play.

We believe the program offers a lovely balance between some structured activity and free exploration through child-led play. And of course, plenty of moments for parents to chat and take a breather among friends!

Our committee has decided to retire the presidential hierarchy in favor of a more egalitarian system. As all parents know, availability ebbs and flows throughout the year. We aim to step up to the plate and cover for others when they are going through a rough patch…and know that the kindness will be reciprocated. This underscores the true spirit of a co-op.

I deeply appreciate the support of fellow committee Moms Vicki, Sarah, Serene, & Maria as we continue to manage a warm and happy space for children and parents alike.

Come join the fun!

P.s. The membership options have also been simplified. The Duty Membership discount still stands. Please email us at fcglyfada@gmail.com for more information.

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Welcome Back & Happy Autumn!

Hello dear friends and Happy Autumn!

Friends Corner is back in full swing now that summer holidays are over. The kids have been busy creating art, bike riding, enjoying music with Lily, and thriving in imaginary play.

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Yesterday, our Welcome Party was a smashing success. We met many new families, and were pleased to see everyone enjoying the festivities.

There was lots of scrumptious food! I shamefully forgot to take a picture of our pastries buffet- the Victorian Sponge cake was deliciously sinful.

Sarah I. set up a lovely play dough station with a centerpiece of natural items celebrating fall: pine cones, cinnamon sticks, and yellow leaves.

The children used these materials to create unique imprints and shapes.

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Vicky brought her face painting kit and made some magic.

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We had lions, princesses, and miniature rainbows adding color and charm to the crowd!

And by the time the activities were over and everyone was well fed…

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Well, everyone just enjoyed the space and had a blast!!

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Weeeeeeeeee!!

Thanks to everyone who joined in the fun and made it a special day for all.

 

Our new President Vicky is developing a fresh new weekly program for Friends Corner. Next week I will get into all those exciting details.

Have a lovely week everyone.

 

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Class of 2016

Well, it’s that bittersweet time of year when we say goodbye to our graduating members of Friends Corner.

Jay, Marlon, Myrto, Ioli, and Angelos are moving on to school in September. This past week marks their last few days in our clubhouse.

It is hard for me to imagine Friends Corner without these very special kiddos. They each have made their own strong and unique impression in our community.

We caregivers often consider how we influence and guide our children. Lets be mindful of everything they bring to light through our time with them.

Jay

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Jay brought a bundle of energy into our playgroup! He was just about the best drummer around in music class, loved to climb (dangerously) high, and ran like the wind.  I will never forget when he came to rescue my daughter stuck in the tunnel of the swing set! Jay grew up in Friends Corner, and his presence as one of the oldest members helped make our playgroup feel like a home.

Marlon

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Marlon’s creativity and dramatic flair are second to none. At times he could work on an activity with such focused, quiet intensity- and the next minute he was bouncing of the walls with a new idea. He loves role playing and using his imagination. Marlon also bears an impressive amount of knowledge about animals and geography. Come visit us from England soon!

Myrto

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Myrto graced Friends Corner with her very gentle presence. She radiated kindness and was notably sensitive with fellow children. Every Tuesday, Myrto requested her favorite song during music class:”To Daxtilidi” (The Ring) and knew the words to all of Lily’s songs. She took great care and pride in her art projects, displaying striking creativity!

Ioli

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I will always remember Ioli running barefoot around Friends Corner with such sprightly energy. She has a notably inquisitive nature- she is always curious and exploring something new. Her favorite song is “koukouvagia” and Ioli is one of the best dancers in music class! She is an independent, strong, and sweet character.

Angelos

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Angelos’ cheery spirit truly shines through those bright blue eyes. He learned to walk in Friends Corner- holding on to the furniture at first, then soon becoming extremely agile and strong.  He enjoyed time with his best friend Leonidas speeding on bikes, climbing, and working on art projects. His sense of humor and playfulness brought a lot of fun into our play space.

 

Reflecting on the presence and character of these children has been a delight. We are sad to say farewell, but it is of comfort to know that they will carry the memories and sense of community with them wherever they go.

The experiences children have in their early years are incredibly important and influential. Our community is proud and privileged to have been a part of these little ones’ lives.