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, 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

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


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.


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!


  • 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


  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.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

How to Host a Brunch Party like a Pro!

Growing up, my mom would host large parties in our home throughout the years. From the numerous birthdays year round, to Thanksgiving feasts, Easter brunch, Christmas dinners, and celebrations of accomplishments, baby births, and new beginnings. As people gathered in our home, I would hear them say time after time that my mother was the best cook. She entertained. She presented a beautiful table. And her ultimate goal was to please others. Happy bellies and lots of laughter made for a successful evening all around, and being around that only propelled me to want to follow in her footsteps.

I'm not going to lie, it's hard to host and to gather with those we love when we have three little ones at home and work full time. Cooking numerous dishes with beautiful presentation is an art and a gift, and it certainly comes with time and practice. I always worried that I wouldn't add up, that people wouldn't enjoy the food, or worst of all that they may not have a good time. Part of the problem is that I ran out of ideas. What sort of party to host, what to serve, and how to please.

So I needed a little practice. I needed a reason to host a little party for those that I love to be around the most. A place to gather, a place to reminisce, and a place to make new memories. 

Here's the thing. It doesn't have to be complex. It can be as simple as inviting your friends or family over for an afternoon of tea and bite-size appetizers. And best part about it, it won't require you to prepare for months, to stress over for weeks, and to cook for days.

I was able to get our tea party set up in a matter of hours! And here's how I did it.

1. Pick a Theme.

What is the purpose of the get together? It is a brunch. Is it a celebration. Is it a simple gathering, a breakfast brunch, a book club over appetizers and tea, or anything else that you may think of. I love the idea of starting a book club, and am thinking of getting a group of people together to join. Better yet, you can rotate what homes you go to every week/month!

2.  Send out invites!

These days, you can create invites online sent via email, or you can be a little crafty and go to pinterest and create cute little ones like these to send out in the mail. 


3. Plan A Menu

There are no rules to hosting a party and what's on the menu. You can do store bought, or you can cook. You can make simple bite-size food, or you can make complex dishes. Some of my favorite things to make:
  • Bruschetta
  • Tomato/mozarella sticks
  • Cucumber bites
  • Mini Cheesecakes
  • Salama/Prosciutto dish
  • Cheese and crackers
  • Coffee cake
  • Mini meatballs
  • Fruit salad
4. Tea Presentation

We drink tea in our house daily. And when we are sick, tea is our go-to remedy for healing; tea, honey, and lemon. The great thing about it, is it doesn't end with just one tea, or even two. There are so many varieties, for all different taste buds.

So, for the tea party that I hosted, I was able to have an assortment of Lipton Tea Flavors that I knew would be a big hit with our friends. Of course, I had to test them out first hand prior to their arrival, and it was hard for me to decide which one I enjoyed the most. I really think that each one was made for different moods and scenarios.

The herbal tea blends were a huge hit with real ingredients that awaken the senses. The new blends create an exciting and unique tea-drinking experience. The taste is light, it's fresh, the color is clear, and it brings a wonderful aroma to the room. With so many flavors, your guests will not be disappointed!

No matter the occasion, no matter what is going on in your life, if you just need a simple reason to gather with friends and to be around good company, host a tea party with Lipton Tea. It doesn't have to be traditional, it doesn't have to have any set of rules or expectations, and it can be as fancy or as low-key as you want it to be. At the end of the day, there is just something beautiful about gathering around the table with good friends and family and sharing stories over a cup of warm tea. 

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

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Dear moms that don't teach their children to clean up

 Dear moms that don't teach their children to clean up,

Are you serious right now?!

You see, I make that face every week that we go to the library and I witness what is known as the "tornado" erupting right before my eyes. A tornado caused by little minions {very cute, and adorable, with lots of energy minions who are just having fun}, all while so many moms sit back and pretend all is okay, assume Johnny and Susie are allowed to make a mess because there is someone else around to clean it up, and then have the audacity to just walk away when they are finished.  Like, "yay that was fun my toddler was entertained, and it wasn't my house that got destroyed for once."

And I'm over here, still like....

Hey lady, you forgot your mess!!
Moms, I'm really not understanding what's going on here. I want to make sense of it, I really don't want to judge, but it's come to the point where I just have to flat out call it how I see it.


Our children are lucky. The library opens their doors for them and entertain them, for free. They get to do story time. They craft. And then the great librarians even turn on some tot music, bring out an assortment of toys, and let them have at it. We end our two hour stay diving into thousands of books and filling our own bag with 30+ to take home for the week. It really is a wonderful time, and we are there at least once a week, so I'm serious when I say this... this post has been 4 years long overdue.
And so you could understand why I am baffled every time by the common courtesy that is lacking in adults (and as a result, their children). Baffled, confused, and completely frustrated. 

If you come to a place that isn't your home, and your child proceeds to make a mess of the books, the toys, and the craft supplies, then please teach them to pick them up. And if they are too young to do so or to understand the process, then you pick it up and be that example for them. 

It may be a tough lesson to learn, and it may result in a tantrum and tears and maybe even a little embarrassment for you. But trust me, I've been there. I sat with my boy less than a year ago in the library for 30 minutes while he cried, kicked, and screamed and flat out told me "No! I'm not doing it!" in regards to the box of blocks that he decided to spill out and then refuse to pick up. But here is where I couldn't just walk away. I couldn't just let him win this, because I was only ever going to allow this one tantrum over this, and I had my chance now to fix that. Because if I stood my ground, if I made sure that at the end of this misery {on both our parts} it meant that he would be cleaning up those darn blocks, and if I stayed certain that he knew that when mommy said you need to clean up, then you need to clean up, then he would trust me and that we would never experience that sort of episode again. And it's true. We never have. Sure, they've tried to avoid it, or took their pretty old time, but at the end, gosh darn it, they do it. 

And not only do they clean up their mess, but we clean up after others. We {me included} will walk around pushing chairs in, putting books back on the shelves, picking up trash off the floor, putting puzzle pieces scattered over tables back together, blocks and toys all over the ground back into their spots, and trying to leave the library a tidy place. No, they didn't cause the mess, but I try to teach them that it's important to clean one up when we see it, even if if it was at the hands of others.

I try to teach them that we should be respectful of other people's homes, as well as our own, and when we see that someone or a place (in this case, our beloved library) is disrespected, then it is our duty to help them.

They get it. They they understand why they are doing it, even if they may gripe and moan about it.

A few months back, my daughter picked up trash on the playground {that we find often}, went over to the trash can and threw it away. She then proceeded to say to me, "Mama, why do people throw trash on the ground, when the trash can is right there." Wow. A 5 year old gets it. Why is it so hard for adults then to understand this basic concept of common courtesy.
Moms, I understand the whole "pick your battles" and I completely understand that you don't want eyes on you, and you're afraid. I've been there.  But damn it that's what parenting is about. It's not meant to be easy. We shouldn't take short cuts. We are simply cheating our children as a result, and robbing them of learning some pretty darn valuable lessons in life.

Cleaning up, and respecting a place that is not ours is pretty important. It's at the top of the list. It means a lot more than just picking up after yourself. It will teach them more about life than putting trash where it belongs, and pushing chairs back in.

We are the example to our children. They will follow in our footsteps. It is our responsibility as parents to show them what respect and courtesy looks like. Trashing a home or building that belongs to others, and then expecting others to clean up after you or your children is just rude. And then they grow up to be self-centered adults that have this "me, my, and mine" mentality and we say "oh my gosh!!! I didn't raise Johnny that way!" 

Oh yes, yes you did.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

If I found out I was 4 months pregnant....

I wouldn't hate it.
I wouldn't be sad.
I wouldn't have fear.
I wouldn't wish I wasn't.
I wouldn't wonder how we would make it work.
What others would think.
When I would sleep.
How to manage my time.
Or if I had enough love of my heart.

I would just be... excited.

Those were the thoughts that came into my head this morning as I was driving into a meeting for work. I actually {out of no where} said to myself, I would be thrilled if say in a couple of months I noticed there was this baby bump that didn't used to be there and went in to find out I was 6 months pregnant. Selfishly, the reason I say 6 months is because that would mean that I would be toward the end of my pregnancy. But in reality, I would just be... excited. Not because I was pregnant, but because there would be a baby at the end of pregnancy.

It's strange for me to say all this. In fact, I don't even know where I am heading with this. I haven't written a spontaneous blog post in a while, and for me to write it on this topic {not exactly even sure what the exact topic is}, leaves me a little puzzled. Am I writing this for myself or for others. Am I writing so that others may relate, chime in, or give me their honest advice? I'm not sure. I'm not sure why I'm writing it, but I just know that I had this sudden urge to write.

So here I am, talking about this idea of having another child.

All while my third is merely 3 4 months old----yes, I just accidentally wrote 3, that's how fast time is going by. Not to mention, the fact that my husband believes that we are 90% done with having children. I say 90% because I know him well enough to know there is a tiny bitty ounce of possibility left in him. Maybe because Polina has been a dream baby and it really hasn't felt any different with her around. Or maybe because he actually loves having babies as much as I do.

I think a little bit of both.

When I think about the reasons that we have talked about being "done" having children, they have always seemed to be for the wrong reasons.

Lack of sleep.
Less "me" time.
Guilt of family members watching the kids.
Guilt over family members buying gifts for our children.
Guilt over sharing our time with them.

They're all silly. Each and every one of them.

Do we think we have enough love in our hearts for more children? Absolutely. I think I could have ten more children if the first 2 "reasons" were excelling in our lives {room and money}, but that is completely beside the point {as I definitely am not having 10 children}. There is nothing about sharing your love, hearts, and time with your children that is challenging, you simply grow to love each of them individually for who they are. Having a child is a gift. A gift of meeting someone new, learning about them, watching them grow, and build this amazing relationship with them. A gift that you just want to keep on giving, because you know how wonderful the feeling is.

That's what having children feels like to me. I have never loved anything more in my life than being a mother. And I'm not even a great one at that. But man do I love those children. Man do I enjoy those children. And boy do I love being with them. Nothing beats the time that I have with my people here in our home. The people that keep on growing right before our eyes with unique, funny, and wonderful personalities.

And don't even get me started about the future. The future that holds many holidays, birthdays, proms, college move-in-days, and wedding dances. We have a life in front of us to build, and a wonderful future to look forward to. All because of our children.

So then, how could you blame me. How could you not understand how perfectly normal it is to be driving in your car one {very} early Wednesday morning and not think about having more. More children to hold. More children to love. More children to get to know, to teach, and to be siblings to the ones that we already love so dearly.

"Are you done having children?"

I get this question a lot.

My answer is simply this...
"I'm here having children. That will never end."

As far as the rest... I'll take it one day at a time. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Graham turns 3. Turned 3. It already happened. I'm just a month late.


Happy 3, little man.

I almost typed 4. I feel like you should be 4. You act like you're 4. You seem older. You want to be older. You're... our middle child. So I feel like you should be older, yet younger at the same time. It's all just very confusing, and I am sitting here at the kitchen table at 10 at night, 1 month late, writing you your birthday later. I don't know if that is supposed to mean something, but I tell you what baby boy, you are the LIGHT of our world. You are the laughter in our home, the spirit that brings everything to life, and the personality that makes us all melt. And I mean all of us. Anyone that meets you always has so many fun things to say about you, and I have a feeling that we are looking into the future right before our eyes. You're just going to be a taller, bigger, more handsome version of who you are now, and that is a big stinking sweetheart with a heart of gold. You love, you love really big, and your feelings, when they get hurt, completely get stomped. You want to be held, and snuggled, and you absolutely adore attention from any avenue out there. You are such a boy, in each and every way, and we are just so utterly blessed to call you our baby boy. Thank you for allowing us to not be perfect. Thank you for allowing us to make mistakes and to teach us to be more patient. Thank you for showing us that life isn't about being serious and caring about keeping things from breaking... it's about living and having fun. These three years have been just wonderful, and we are so looking forward to the many more years down the road.


What have you been up to at the age of 3.

Well, to start with, you are all boy. 

This picture is a prime example. Mom, pictures are no fun, this is completely boring, and I would completely rather be perusing around in the forest:

And there is absolutely no one in this world that you love more than your sissy. You claim that it is mommy, but I know and can see by the way that you look at her and play with her that she is your everything. You look up to her. You do anything she says for you to do. You want to be playing with her all hours of the day {and do}, and you like/dislike anything that she likes or doesn't like. She is your best friend, and I hope that the bond that the two of you have created never changes.

Always have to have sleeves rolled up and pants rolled up. Always. You would much rather be in underwear or plain naked, and definitely prefer the summer clothing over wintering. The less layers, the better. Actually you are also not a fan of socks or shoes. I don't even know why we even try to put them on you when we get in the car, because you immediately take them off.

Speaking of clothes, you are not a fancy little dude. You are my tee and basketball shorts kind of kid. The nice clothes are only allowed on Church days, birthdays, or special occasions. So, rare. Remind me why we buy them again?

The way we know when you are up to no good: you either give us that little smirk, or you put your hands together behind your back and walk away, periodically turning around to see if we are still looking.

You are sneaky. Very sneaky. Your day revolves around how to be destructive/make us upset. It's not malicious in any way, you are really trying to get a laugh out of us, and most days it works.

However, I am certainly not a fan of the sticking anything and everything in the toilet business.

You jump. A lot. And off of anything and everything.

You love all things cars, trucks, airplanes, super heroes, and transformers. But? You will totally play baby or with stuffed animals any time your sissy requests.

Paw patrol is a big hit right now as well.

You have to hold my hair {or someone's hair} when you go to sleep. You love to play with it, and the way that I know that you are getting tired {besides your eyes drifting in and out of sleep}, is you will begin to play with your own hair.

Loves anything sissy loves. Hates anything sissy hates. It could be your favorite meal of the day, but if sissy says "ew that's gross," you quickly push your plate away and say the exact same thing.

You adore your sweet P, but she is definitely old news to you. Until she can walk and talk, I think she is just fun to run up and kiss every once in a while... that and push her little rocker around in the hallway as though it is a car... {with her in it}.

You are really into telling us lately what is for boys and what is for girls, which we have no idea where you got that from as we have never said those things, placed certain toys or books or such into categories of gender, and really could care less about typical stereotypes. So it is very interesting to us that you are able to identify this in your own way.

May just be an aspiring musician. LOVES to sing. Loves to bang on drums {whatever he makes into drums}, and play the guitar. We have some great videos that I am sure you will love to see 10 years down the road.

Extremely coordinated. Great soccer ball kicker. Has a nice throw. And can do a mad twirl! Yes, I said it.

You have to nap. Honestly, I actually try to prevent you from napping, as I know it makes it more difficult come bed time, but you make yourself nap by just going on the couch and falling asleep. It's so funny to me, as I had the complete opposite problem with your sister when she was your age {trying to force her to nap}, and here you are wanting to do it on your own. You are definitely just like your papa in that sense.

You hate roller coasters. For now, I hope. I think you will probably not be a fan of heights {just like your mama}.

We plan on starting you in soccer this spring, and you are so excited about it. I know you are more than ready.

Right now your favorite shows are: paw patrol, robo bots, and jake and the neverland pirates.

You still sleep with us, and we are so okay with it... because you are quite one of the best cuddlers out there!

You really don't love learning, but you do learn. You pick up things easily, but really hate showing off what you know, and that is totally okay as well. So far you know your ABC's, 1-30 {not perfect}, most of your shapes, all of your colors, some sight words, some Russian words, how to spell your name, and you talk in paragraphs with a pretty high vocabulary.

But, like I tell your sissy, what is most important for your papa and I, is that you love and you love big. Not your academics, or how good you are in sports. But rather, the way that you treat others, the way that you help those in need, and showing others grace. You're only 3, but you already have a big heart and we hope to grow on that and to teach you to be a very kind gentleman.

But for now, keep jumping off couches, singing at the top of your lungs, and making us laugh so hard we cry. We love you LOOOOOTS and we will always work hard at showing you just how much.

Happy 3 little man!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Vacation video

I make these every year, and every year they get longer and sweeter. More family members, more babies, more laughs, and more fun. I know I will cherish these greatly down the road. I already do.

Our vacation 2015

Friday, January 8, 2016

An update on life

Boy has this little space of mine been neglected or what. I am sure by now everyone is convinced that my blogging days are over, but I'm over here trying to talk myself into all these grand plans for my writing. I want to open up this space for myself to let go, to dream through words, to connect, and to grow. Reading my writing often times lets me reflect on things, and in a way is a form of therapy. Yet, I haven't found that balance yet. The balance between working full time, to taking care of the kids full time, to growing my photography business, and to remember to just sit back, relax, and enjoy life.

But that also doesn't mean that I have to give up right? Surely, I can dig myself out of this blogging funk and find myself through the process. Even if that means that the kids are throwing legos, and the baby is essentially crawling all over me, and I'm avoiding answering emails. But I'm sitting here and I'm going to write it out gosh darn it.

So. Life.

Man life has been good. We have had such an amazing year. A great year. With a lot of hard days though. My kids are getting to an age where the parenting thing is always making me question myself. Yesterday was one of those days. Where I felt like I failed. I yelled a lot, I said things I wish I hadn't said, and I didn't love enough. I was quick to respond, and my patience was on a different continent.

But we are all healthy. My kids are really happy. Andrew is happy finally at work. I'm doing new things at mine. And we are together. Every day that I wake up, I just think, thank God we are all together. If I can just keep this thought tucked away in my back pocket wherever I go, all throughout the day, then perhaps I can learn to let go of the things that really don't matter.

Christmas was amazing. We had the best time at my parents house, enjoyed the best Russian food ever {my mom is the most amazing cook}, shared great laughs, and then ended the night in our Christmas jammies {EVERYONE}, and opening up the presents. It was the best night. We stayed there, and then int he morning we were off, singing Christmas carols and wondering if Santa did in fact make a stop at our house. He did. And he was good to us. And again, there was something so special about this Christmas. Not sure if it was because Polina was with us this year, the fact that the kids are at such fun ages, or maybe because we just savored every moment and did not feel rushed one bit to go anywhere. It was truly memorable.

Elliana wants to go to school next year. Like really really wants to. I've always said that we will follow lead with our kids' desires when it comes to homeschooling, so I guess we will most likely have a kid in school next year and that is all bizarre to me. I mean, we are going from being with her all hours to the day, to being gone the majority of the day 5 days a week. I just don't think I will be able to handle it.....

I have a 3 year old now. Oh yes, can you believe that. Graham man is officially 3, and I promise I am working on his 3 year post and have not {and will not} forget about my sweet little man. He's wonderful though. So special. Mama's boy through and through. Papa lover for all things fun. And just a destructible little thing.

I also have an almost 4 month old. Here in less than 2 weeks, Polina will be 1/3 of the way through the year, and that just seems shocking to me honestly. She is holding her head up high, sleeping through the night {11-12 hours without waking}, and drooling like a monster which leads me to believe she may have teeth sooner than later. The kids are in love with her, and her sweet giggles just steal our hearts all day long.

I made our vacation video. It's 21 minutes long. It will definitely be a post for another day.

Work is work. I'm still working full time nights in the critical care unit, and although I have talked about going part time, I'm still not there yet. The schedule is still working out ok for me {in other words, the lack of sleep is still going strong}, and well one day I will have time to sleep I guess. I'm doing charge and rapid response now {very interesting}, as well as precepting, so it's nice to have a change of pace on some days.

My photography business is growing. I mean blooming. In fact, I'm pretty much booked up fall 2016 already. I have six weddings booked, and 2 pending currently. I mean what is going on here? I'm excited to share that I will also be buying my dream camera. This is the biggest reason for my absence around here.

I'm going to leave it there, because I have a few photography clients to get back to, and I think I have rambled enough. Not to mention, Andrew should be home any minute with what I hope, wine in his hands!

Happy weekend you all.

My sister turns 21 next week!!!!!!!


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