Saturday, May 7, 2016

Celebrating Mother's Day with my moms across the sea.





I was 7 years old at the time. Small children's suitcase in one hand. A soft animal in the other. Lots of people around me crying, hugging, and saying their well wishes. People that I know and love dearly. People that I would later discover I wouldn't ever see again.

We first boarded a plane. Then it was a train. Then it was a plane again. By the time we landed at the final destination, there were people that I did not recognize around me, and voices that I could not understand. Voices that would later intertwine with mine, and a language that I would one day speak as well.

I spent many summers running after hogs, milking cows, and picking strawberries in grandma's garden. Life was lived in the city, riding buses to desired destinations, and a very independent way of living. What was once my country, became my past. What was once just a country on a map, became my life.


Belarus to the United States of America. Where dreams come true.

I can attest to that statement. Every one bit of it.

We moved to Indiana in 1993. One thousand dollars in hand. A suitcase of clothes for each person. And not one family member knowing an ounce of English. Hello. Bye. Thank you.

My parents got set up with a couple of jobs. They went to school at night to learn English. And they would give us flash cards to learn the summer before we started school. 50 words a night. I was to start first grade in the fall, my brother 3rd. We would be okay mom said. It would be easy for us.

And we did. A few years went by, and my parents were able to buy a second car. They bought their very first home {with a pool!}, and although it stayed unfurnished for many years, in no time they slowly started to fill room by room. Their English got better, everyone began adjusting to this new life, and before you knew it, we were standing in front of the judge that announced our official citizenship of the United States of America.


It seems as though it would be easy for us to forget where we came from, how far my parents have come, and all that has happened in the past 20+ years. But then I am reminded of the many {all} of the family members that are still left behind. Thankful for technology of today, we are able to skype with them. We can hear their voices, and see their faces any time we please. We watch as cousins get married, aunts and uncles become grandparents, and slowly the number of our family begins to grow. Or should I say, quickly.

We know how hard life can be over there. We understand how fortunate we are. My mom tries to send packages frequently to our family members. From shoes, clothes, to every day gifts. And when necessary, we can send money by using a service such as Xoom through PayPal.

Looking for the perfect gift for the special mom in your life? PayPal is offering Mother’s Day shopping deals from merchants like Macy's and Kohls at PayPal.com/MothersDay, or you can shop the PayPal Digital Gifts store so Mom can pick out something she’s sure to love.

Xoom, a PayPal service, powers international payments to friends and family in more than 40 countries around the world and the number one recipient of payments on Xoom is Mom. 
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Dear Becky before kids. Love, Becky after kids.

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Huggies, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #HuggiesatKroger  http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV


Dear 23 year old Becky, 


 

Hello! This is 29 year old Becky writing you a quick letter to help you with the next few years to come. A lot is going to happen, and a lot of growth will be done. Not just internally, but externally {think numbers}. I want to give you just a little piece of advice:

Just go with it.

When you are pregnant with your first, you will dream about your upcoming life. You will soak up every moment of pregnancy, and you will plan every detail out there. You will spend a lot of time preparing the nursery, the car, and most importantly your hearts for what will surely be the best day to come. Every emotion out there will hit you. You'll be scared.  Excited. Curious. Nervous. Fearful. Thankful.

But let me tell you, when the baby comes it will far exceed any preparation out there. You cannot possibly prepare yourself for the love that you will feel in your heart for this baby, and you certainly cannot prepare yourself for what motherhood will do to you. You'll quickly realize there are no right or wrong answers in this parenting gig, and slowly, but surely, as the baby grows, you find yourself more and more confident.

So confident, that you decide to have a second one 2 years later.



Just go with it.

There is a little less preparing, but the nursery will be done in time. There is a little bit less nerves of how to be a mother, but you certainly will doubt you will love another child as much as your first. Go ahead and laugh at that statement, as you will prove yourself wrong over and over again. There is a new thing to prepare for, and that is your first child to being an older sibling now. But they too, surprise you. She'll be wonderful. She'll be your helper. She'll be more independent. She will grow instantly. But remember, she's still a baby. You'll get irritated. You'll get confused. And there will be tears shed. But, you will have better days than bad. You'll accomplish shopping at the supermarket with two like a pro. You'll have park dates. You will plan fun activities out.  And one day you will even find yourself sitting on the couch with your husband thinking... maybe, we can do this again.

Just go with it.

Your third arrives even quicker than the last. There is absolutely no preparing here. You buy a couple of outfits, you install a car seat, and you have absolutely no fear this time around. In fact, this is the most relaxed you have ever felt while pregnant. You know you will love this child tremendously. Equally as the other two. You know the process well now, and you feel confident about it. And for some reason, you have no quilt.

No guilt that you didn't personalize ten million things. No guilt that you didn't document ever food aversion, every bathroom trip, and every measurement out there. You have no guilt for not preparing a nursery, and you are confident that this baby will feel just as loved if not more loved than the other two.



Your baby will live with you in your room. The crib will be right next to your bed, just where it belongs. You'll combat all those comments of "baby needs their own room" and even your own family who thinks that all of a sudden you need to upgrade from your 4 bedroom home. You learn how to organize and juggle, and you now know, more than ever, what is most important for the baby to have. Love {lots of it}, warmth, food {which is attached to you}, and most importantly, Huggies Snug & Dry diapers. New and improved, they provide 12 hour protection {because your baby will sleep through the night quicker than you expected}, and you won't have to worry about leaks because of the triple layer protection.

You will now feel like you have it all.

Because you do.

Because you just went with it.




----
We shopped at Kroger. And if you shop at Kroger during the "Baby Me" Event going on between 3/20/16 - 4/2/16 and spend $40 on participating baby items so you can receive a $10 off coupon good towards anything at Kroger. (while supplies last)

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Together.



While nursing Polina to sleep tonight, I watched an adoption video—a really amazing story, actually.  And something that the father had said in the video really sparked something in me. He said that while his friends and family were busy running around from one dance recital to the other, this school committee to the next, and one commitment after another, they were what one would call busy.

They were busy and the days, weeks, and years of childhood were going by drastically fast. On the other hand, here him and his wife had these 5 new children and many years of their childhood already went by.  Years he could not get back nor be a part of. And therefore, he didn't want to miss out on any more. And while they do those things that other families do, they make sure to always do them together.

He explained it much better than I just did.

More importantly, it got me thinking. I never want to be like that. Busy.

It's the reason why we do what we do, why we parent the way we parent, why we are how we are as a family. Because I always want us to be as a family.... together.

Soccer practice on Wednesdays means that I haul 3 children with me, load up the car with two large water bottles, baby essentials, jackets, snacks, and umbrellas {just in case}. I find a spot, standing there across the net with a baby on my hip, and my oldest standing on top of the chair clapping and cheering her brother on as he runs back and forth trying to kick the ball into the goal. Halfway through, Andrew joins us in his cute work outfit, kissing his girls, and joining in on the cheering. Sometimes that means that I have to work the night shift right after, and we switch cars and I drive off after the game. Sometimes I don't, and we can go to the little cute town nearby and have a bite of pizza. But it's something that we do, and we do together.

On Saturdays, we haul three children to gymnastics. Sometimes baby passes out and sleeps through the whole thing. Sometimes big brother does the same. But we are there, cheering our big girl on as she completes one new stunt to the next. Afterwards, we may stop for a treat at the local bakery. We may all end up in Trader Joe's together grocery shopping, and other times it may mean a special trip to grandma's or even a game of bowling. But it's something that we do, and we do together. 

Library trips are all together.
Park trips are all together.
Little dates with the kids, together.
Lunches or dinners out.
Shopping as a family.
Movie nights.
Game nights.
Even co-sleeping. {I know, shocker}.

Our kids are little right now, and so that makes it easy for us to do. We are able to do so much together, and we spend so much time with one another, and we are able to adjust our schedules in order to do that. People may ask, why, why are you guys always together?

My answer, why not.

They are only little for so long.  You hear that a lot. But what do we do about it? The reason I have chosen to keep my kids home from school this long {although E is begging for Kinder next year} is because it's important for me to build those relationships with them, and even more importantly, for them to build a strong relationship among each other.

Elli and Graham play together from sunrise to sunset. Don't get me wrong, there is that 5% of the time where a fight will ensue over something they are doing, a toy, or something silly another person said. But it's usually {I say usually, because sometimes we don't recover from it} over pretty quickly and they move along. But I'm telling you, their bond is so close that I am literally amazed by it every day. I shouldn't be, as they've been close from day one, but it still amazes me when I am witnessing day after day. I watch them and I am so grateful that they have each other. And I'm even more grateful to know that Polina is growing up with such a wonderful brother and sister to guide her.

I'd also like to think that the amount of time that we have invested in building these relationships with our children has played a major role in the way that they are. I'd like to think that by building these relationships now with them, gaining that ultimate trust and respect from them, will hopefully help us in the future as they grow, mature, and become more independent {and opinionated} in life. 

Although I hate to think about this, I also like to know that if anything ever happened to us, that they have each other. Not only that, but that they truly love each other. Not just because they are blood.

Busy.

What was I saying about that?

I never want to be that way. I know we all get lost in the hussle and bussle of life. It's hard not to. But I hope that when we are lost, and when we are busy, and when days, and weeks, and years, go by right before our eyes. That at least we will be doing it together.

Cheering each other on, together.
Laughing, together.
Crying, together.
Creating memories, together.
Winning, together.
Losing, together. 

Being us, together.





Sunday, March 6, 2016

Russian Pancakes Recipe


There is something special about holidays once children come into the picture. Discovering the joy, and living the joy through them really becomes a remarkable thing as a parent. You learn to appreciate the time with family more. You realize the importance of traditions and creating memories. And you bring a little of your childhood back to life through them—hoping that a little bit of your culture will live on for hundreds of years down he road.

I've whipped out the decorations, I've marked on the calendar, and we've made plans for Easter egg hunts, Easter service, and Easter brunch. One of the things that the kids love most about, aside from hoarding hundreds of eggs and binge-eating chocolate are the Russian pancakes that we make and scatter across the table on numerous plates for all to devour.

Russian pancakes. The first thing I hear people ask is what are they and how are they any different than "regular" pancakes. Do they call them American pancakes? I don't think so. But let me tell you, there sure is a difference. I remember growing up on these pancakes, and now even knowing that something different existed. That is until I spent the night at a friends house and the next morning her mom had pancakes waiting for us on the table. They're thick, I thought. They're, fluffy I said. And what's this sticky stuff I'm supposed to put on top of them, I inquired. Maple syrup they told me.

It was quite the experience.

But Russian pancakes... they're out of this world. The consistency is similar to crepes. They're very thin. They roll like a burrito. And the best of all is the stuff you put on top of them. Butter and sugar. Sour cream and sugar {my favorite}, and various jellies. In other words, sweet, sweet, and sweet.

Here's another secret I'm going to share with you all. I don't even know how to make them. Don't laugh. The reason I don't know how to make them, is because my husband does. My all-American husband who after eating my mother's pancakes 10 years ago, has sworn they are the best thing to ever exist {as far as pancakes go}. And that's the truth.

So why learn when I can just have him make them for me, right.

Well, today, we are in for a treat. We are going to learn TOGETHER!


Ingredients

  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tblsp white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil

Directions

  1. Beat together the milk and the eggs. Stir in the salt and the sugar and mix well. Add the baking sod.
  2. Blend in the flour. This was our first time using Bob's Red Mill Organic flour, and it worked perfectly for these. It has since become a staple in our kitchen for all our baking needs, and I love that it is milled from Organic hard red wheat. Versatile high protein flour!
  3. Add the vegetable oil and pour in the boiling water, stirring constantly. The batter should be very thin, almost watery. Set the bowl aside and let it rest for 20 minutes.
  4. Add oil to a medium-high heat frying pan. Pick the pan up off the heat. Pour in batter while you rotate your wrist, tilting the pan so the batter makes a circle and coats the bottom. The blini should be very thin. {the first one is always a throw-out!}
  5. Return the pan to the heat. Cook the blini for 90 seconds. Carefully lift up an edge of the blini to see if it's fully cooked: the edges will be golden and it should have brown spots on the surface. Flip the blini over and cook the other side for 1 minute.
  6. Transfer the blini to a plate lined with a clean kitchen towel. Continue cooking the blini, adding additional oil to the pan after a couple blini. Stack them on top of each other and cover with the kitchen towel to keep warm.
  7. Spread your favorite filling in the center of the blini, and roll like a burrito.


I'm telling you... once you go Russian... you never go back!


**Here's a coupon off of Bob's Red Mill flour!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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