We are really enjoying homeschool so far. We are still figuring out what works for us and what doesn’t, but the nice thing is we are allowed to adjust our days for what works best for our family.
Ella really enjoys insects a lot. She found a dead bumblebee and was asking lots of questions about them & inspecting it.
I scored this awesome poster that really adds to our Living Education Atmosphere.
Typically we just do school on the weekdays, but honestly education never ends & sometimes events are limited to the weekends. This Sunday, we went to the Ukrainian Festival & watched Ukrainian dancing, listened to Ukrainian music, planned on eating (pierogies sold out FAST & only meat options were left), & shopped for some items. I signed up to join the Ukrainian Women’s League of America.
We were supposed to see Shakespeare in the Park this Saturday, but we were rained out. We still had our picnic at the park, checked out the nature center (sad to learn it is still mostly shut down since covid with no plans to re-open at this time, and played on the outdoor playground.
Ella found a cicada which made her very happy. Cicadas are her favorite insect.
We went to the library for Family Storytime. It’s mostly geared toward the three younger kids, but the older kids still enjoy it too. They mostly go for the tech time after crafting & to pick out new books though. I enjoy picking up new cookbooks to try new recipes.
For math one day we made a “Hungry Adding Robot” that Mia picked from a math book we picked out at the library this week. We love our library trips. The kids had a lot of fun picking out projects for us to do over the course of this “term.” We also had a lot of fun making this.
I really love that we are able to do the activities together as a family, but the big girls still have their own individual work to do too.
For science one day we made Nature Journals to collect various nature the girls find. Each “journal” has 4 paper bags to fill with things they find interesting on our nature walks. We can use our Nature Anatomy books to identify new nature we haven’t seen before.
Today we took a field trip to Highfield Discovery Garden. The story in the garden today was Dragons Love Tacos & they got to pick Taco Topping Veggies from the garden. They got tomatoes, peppers, and radishes. They remembered that radishes were mentioned last week in The Tail of Peter Rabbit.
They played on the tree house playground & in the garden, spent time exploring in the nature center, picked a book each in the little library, and put on a puppet show. We also packed a picnic lunch to share in the garden Cafe. Moses really liked watching the trains go around the tree house tracks.
Overall we had a really good week. We completed all our group & individual work we had planned. Time to make dinner & get ready for Ella’s first volleyball game!
I’m going to get really vulnerable here for a change. It’s scary & embarrassing, but it’s real life, and it’s why I made this blog in the first place.
Every once in awhile I notice the lessons that the universe gives me in order to make me a stronger person. It’s honestly really cool and eye-opening. Sometimes we all need to be broken down in some way in order to build us back up, but since beginning my spiritual journey I’ve seen time & time again that you will not be left broken if you have faith.
My husband works a full time career. I am a stay at home mom/homemaker. Our family of 7 receives snap benefits and I’m not going to lie; we rely pretty heavily on that for a big chunk of our monthly groceries. Especially since March 2020, we have been receiving a second payment (called an “emergency allotment”) which has really been extremely appreciated by our family.
It’s an impossible cycle they set in place to ensure reliance on the government. The ultimate goal is to be self-reliant and not need snap benefits, but as soon as you make enough to be comfortable for a split second, they cut you off from benefits and you’re immediately back to struggling. I’ve known people to quit their jobs just to not lose their food or medical benefits for their child.
Anyway, the day it has been scheduled (from 3/20-present) to hit our account arrives and I could not be more thrilled to place our Drive Up order at Kroger. Before I place the order, I habitually check the balance, only to see $7.74. I call to hear our next scheduled payment date: nearly a month away. I panicked.
I did some research online. I saw that only some states renewed the EA payments through the end of April, and Ohio wasn’t on the list. I panicked even more. I have 5 little mouths to feed, plus my husband & I, but their little bellies are our first priority. $7 wasn’t going to work. My first instinct was to find a food bank to stock up on as many groceries as I could to supplement that payment until at least payday, then figure out an entire new budget. I was embarrassed to share my current situation with anyone. I was scared if anyone knew I was struggling with food, I would lose my kids.
I headed to The Healing Place. It was very nice, everyone was super friendly. They offer free onsite childcare with background-checked volunteers while you are there so you can focus on the task(s) at hand, a free clothing/home needs store, a free grocery store with food items donated by local grocery stores such as Kroger & Costco, as well as free bicycles and/or bus tokens, free medical attention (well checks, addiction specialists, mental health services, eye health, etc.) by UC students, and so much more. It really is such a beautiful mission.
I came home feeling a mix of grateful, like a total failure, and very humbled. I hadn’t been in a place like that for myself in a long time. It’s a very humbling experience and definitely knocked my ass down a few notches, but my pride & snobbish attitude obviously needed to be put in check and I needed to be reminded that EVERYONE needs help sometimes. Getting help does not mean that you are a failure or a bad mom, it means you are human.
The next day I went to Kroger to buy a head of lettuce. Before going in I checked the balance, out of habit, knowing that it was still going to say $7.74. But it didn’t. The payment had been deposited a few hours earlier.
It was a miracle. I was seriously shocked. A total wave of relief washed over me. As well as a sobering realization that at any moment our food supply can be cut off- the government has us right where they want us- relient on them.
I now see the importance of having a bulk food & water supply in case of emergencies that our family can survive on, instead of just a fully stocked pantry that I’ve been focusing on in my homemaking.
If you or someone you know is struggling, please do not be ashamed to ask for help. With the intense inflation, many people are struggling more than they care to admit. You aren’t alone. There is plenty of help out there available to families (and single people as well), and that is exactly what it is intended for- to help in your time of need. You are worthy of help.
I went to Target the other day and saw the cutest little face potters for plants that I wanted to get for this windowsill, but then I saw the price tag & said ope, nevermind, and placed it back.
I headed down to Menards and picked up a small stack of these Terra cotta planters for $0.78 each & asked my husband to decorate them for me instead. These first two he made for me are awesome! I can’t wait to see what the rest will turn out like. I want to go back and get a bunch more for the kids & I to decorate also! We have plenty of empty windowsill space to fill with our purposeful art, herbs, & houseplants.
Instead of blowing a bunch of money at Target to get what everyone else has, I was able to save a ton of money & get custom planters instead. You can do ANYTHING with these. Decorate them ANY way you want. Let your imagination run wild. They’ll end up looking way cuter than anything you can find at Target, plus no one else in the world will have the same one as you!
Sasha & I made Syrniki this morning for breakfast! Syrniki are Ukrainian pancakes made from Farmers Cheese. I didn’t have time to pick up real Farmers Cheese, so I used cottage cheese as a substitute. Next time I make these, I’m going to stop in at Marina’s European Food Market and pick up some real Slavic Farmers Cheese.
In case you don’t know us personally, I am Ukrainian & my husband is from Russia. I was lucky enough to grow up learning some of the Ukrainian/Eastern European culture from my dad & his family (his sister, Mary, & her polish husband, Vince, both who are sadly no longer with us.) I loved going to their family parties! Learning the traditions, hearing the language… I loved their accents. I’d ask them to speak to me in Ukrainian, and in Ukrainian they would say, “why should I speak it if you can’t understand it?” I just thought that was the coolest thing ever. I learned a few words growing up, but never the language.
Ever since I was little, I knew I wanted to marry an Eastern European man. I gave all of my children a Ukrainian (or Russian) middle name to honor our heritage: Kaden Yuri (after my dad) 💙, Ella Aleksandriya 💗, Mia Nataliya (after Niko’s birth mother) 💗, Sasha Katiya 💗, Athena Mariyah (after my dad’s sister & my mom, both Mary… *side note: it isn’t supposed to have an “h” at the end. I’m still mad at myself for agreeing to putting that) 💗, & Moses Kolya (after Niko) 💙.
Since the invasion, I have decided to go “full Ukrainian.” I’ve taught myself how to read & write their alphabet confidently. I can now speak Ukrainian at an elementary level. I am teaching my children as I learn so we can be fluent at home. My husband has tried teaching me Russian over the years (which is very similar to Ukrainian), and I’ve tried Rosetta Stone in the past so it wasn’t totally unfamiliar to me, but this time it just clicked- almost like it was unlocked from my DNA bank. I finally would be able to not only understand what they were saying to me, but respond too. I’m so proud of myself.
In addition to all of that, I am learning how to cook Ukrainian foods so that I will be able to pass recipes down to my children to continue embracing our culture for generations to come.
Today we made Syrniki & it turned out REALLY yummy so I decided to share it here.
Gather your ingredients.
2 16oz containers cottage cheese (farmers cheese if possible)
1 cup flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
I have a large family & wanted to make sure that I had extra to send to my parents to try. If you have a small family; cut this in half, or make & use for breakfast prep/freezer breakfast meal for later.
Sasha hard at work mixing everything together in a big bowl.
Meanwhile, pour some oil of your choice on a skillet on the stove and let it heat up.
Wash your hands again. Leave them a little wet, but not dripping. Grab a smallish size amount of cheese mixture and form into a patty & place on stove. Wet hands again & repeat one by one. You’ll want to fry them until they are golden brown. DO NOT move them until you see the crust forming on the bottom & the top looks flat like pancake batter, no longer like cottage cheese (the cottage cheese will slop all over the pan if you flip too soon). Flipping is more difficult than with American pancakes.
Once both sides are golden brown, transfer to a place &…
I served these with peaches. I had planned on making cream to go with them as well, but got too overwhelmed with the flipping that I decided peaches were enough. Next time I will definitely make the cream ahead of time because it would be a very nice treat to go with them.
Now that I made them and know what to expect, I will feel more confident making them from here on out. I am excited to try them with various toppings, especially other fruits & jams. They are more savory than sweet, so the fruits bring a natural sweetness to them. They are really, really good though- the kids even said they were delicious!
It is SUCH a cute place! Its like a miniature version of a grown up salon and everyone who knows me, knows how I feel about miniature things 😍.
Seriously though, I couldn’t get over how cute this place is! As soon as you walk in they offer you a drink; water, cold brew, or local craft beer. I can almost never turn down a cold brew 😉.
There is a cute little gift shop with adorable hair accessories and little toys. There’s a hair product section of kid-safe products for sale as well. There’s also a play section with wooden toys in the waiting area to play with.
There is also a room for nails & glitter tattoos which is where the birthday parties are held. The receptionist was telling us about more future plans happening that will make this kids salon EVEN better! I can’t wait to see how that is even possible!
Mia got one braid in the front + purple glitter. Ella got two braids tied behind like a ninja which could not be a more perfect hair style for her + blue glitter.
Mia kept her long hair just trimming off the dead ends, but Ella brought hers closer to her shoulders so that it would be a lot easier for her to maintain without taking too much length. She has very thick hair that locks up really bad. Brushing her hair has always been a traumatic event for both of us, so I am really hopeful that this new style helps. It definitely looks adorable!
This really was such a fun experience and is going to be our haircut home from now on. We have officially become that family that will only go to one place for the rest of our kids lives. Seriously though, it’s that great of a place! We will definitely be back for Mia’s birthday in August for a pamper sesh!
We had our parents (minus my mom ☹️) & Kaden over tonight to celebrate Moses’ birthday. We were supposed to last weekend, but most of our family had a cough and/or runny nose, so we postponed to tonight, but unfortunately my mom tested positive for covid today so she stayed home.
My original plan was supposed to be a grill-out, but since it rained on & off all day, we moved it inside instead so I just threw something small together.
I used our tree stump cake stand from our fall forest wedding for a homemade chocolate cake. I made little “s’mores cups” out of garden seed starter cups & filled a fall mini loaf pan with gummy bears. I grabbed a stuffed squirrel we had & had the kids find me some sticks to place in a vase for decor.
I found these cute little cake toppers on Amazon and just stuck them in cute. My dad commented that it looked better than the ones I get from a bakery which made me sooooo happy to hear & really proud of my hardwork.
We ordered a variety tray of Subway sandwiches since our food menu changed on us. I also put out Pretzel twig sticks, wild berry mix my dad brought, and some babybel cheeses that I drew spots on to look like ladybugs.
I found this cute woodland theme party set on Amazon. They were adorable.
I made the garland finding photos on Pinterest that looked similar to the plates. I printed them out, glued them to construction paper, them laminated them & cut into individual pieces. I used a hole puncher to make holes and tried some yarn through to hang up. It barely took any time at all and looked really cute.
Moses was pretty nervous by the candle. He took a few bites of his piece before throwing it on the floor.
The handsome guest of honor with his super adorable “I’m Ukrainian, what’s your superpower?” Shirt.
It was really small, but it was only his first so realistically he had no idea what that whole shindig was for. It was still cute though and I hope everyone had a nice evening celebrating my Mosie Man.
Niko told me that I am “the best mom in the world” when he came home from work which really meant so much to me. He knows how hard I am on myself about being a mom & always thinking I’m not good enough/not doing enough so that really meant the world to me. I just hope the kids think it, that’s what really matters.
We went with Grandma Colleen to lunch today at Panera (I had a pick 2: Mediterranian Veggie Sandwich + Strawberry Poppyseed Salad without chicken… SO yum! The girls both had mac & cheese + strawberry yogurt) then took Sasha + Athena to get their hairs cut for summer!
We wanted to break the girls up by the big & little so it wouldn’t be as overwhelming for anyone which was a really good idea.
They look so cute & behaved so well today. I was so proud of them!!
I can’t believe it was Moses’ birthday yesterday!! A whole year has passed since he was born. He’s my best friend. My little dude. My Mosie Wosie. We have a special connection that no one else can understand, but I’ll try to explain it to you ❤
This photo was taken the day before he was born. I was so excited to meet my baby. We waited until birth to find out the gender.
Towards the end of the day I began feeling extremely nervous. More nervous than with any of my others babies births. A different nervous, like something was wrong. Maybe it was the fact that I didn’t know the gender, or maybe it was because I was using a different doctor & hospital this time because of financial reasons. Whatever it was, my intuition is strong.
I woke up still nervous as can be. A total anxious wreck. More nervous than excited. My father in law asked if I was normally this nervous. I said, “no. Not at all.” We headed to the hospital.
Before surgery, I had a terrible feeling. During prep, I had to have my spinal done twice because the first one wasn’t done correctly. This time I felt a “pop” that I’ve never felt before in any previous c-section. I remember hoping I wasn’t paralyzed when this was all over.
During the surgery, everything seemed to be going fine. They let me know I would feel pressure, and my husband said “it’s a boy!” The look on his face was all worth the wait. That was one of my favorite memories of seeing Niko.
They didn’t let me hold him right away. That was weird. It didn’t hit me that something was wrong yet. I asked to hold him. Niko handed him to me and took this photo of us. I began feeling really weak. I was pouring sweat. I told Niko he needed to hold him. I began feeling scared. This didn’t feel right. I asked Niko to hold my hand. I felt like I maybe wasn’t going to make it through this time.
I was told the doctor sliced my bladder and another team was on their way for a bladder surgery. I don’t remember much else until we got back to the room. My brain isn’t ready to remember yet.
The doctor told us we were not allowed to have any more babies because my uterus & bladder are now fused together. I was told I would need to wear a catheter for at least 2.5 weeks, possibly indefinitely- just depends on how well my body heals.
After an extremely traumatic birth experience, we made it through- alive & together. He was perfect.
Because of the birth trauma, nursing was difficult for us in the beginning. Everyone around me was trying to push me to give in to the formula, but I dug in my heels. There was NO was I was going to sacrifice nursing my baby.
My husband had to be home with the girls, so I was alone most of the day + night in the hospital- that was really hard for me. Like really hard. I held a grudge about that for a long time and every now and then those hurt feelings still pop up.
My mom came as often as she could to try to keep me in good spirits and fed. Normally I love me some good hospital cuisine room service, but I’d rate this cafeteria 1 star at best.
While I was alone in my room, my emotions hit me. I was in total shock over what happened. I felt betrayed being left alone, especially so quickly, after what happened. I felt grief and loss over the fact I was told I couldn’t carry anymore children, that was not our plan at all and that decision was taken from me. I felt anger for that. I felt worried that my sadness would affect my bonding with my son. I felt guilty for being upset. I was unsure of what the outcome of this injury would be. I was worried about what our financial situation would look like since Niko had to take off work to be our primary caregiver. I was a total mess of emotions
I was stuck inside a shitty hospital, with a shitty view, and had no idea what the future was about to bring so I cried. And while I was crying a nurse walked in. She did she said nothing. She did her business then left. Then returned with a piece of paper, maybe it was a packet, and told me she needed me to fill it out. It was scale to find out if I had post-partum depression.
I didn’t have post partum depression. I had birth trauma, natural emotions, and was totally out of control of my own body & health. I had a life changing situation occur
Once we came home, I began feeling better. I don’t do so well in hospitals. Never have. Usually I’m up walking around as soon as I return to my room and beg the doctors to let me leave until the minute my discharge papers are in my hand.
I was pretty immobile with the catheter. When I laid down, all of the urine pooled until I stood up. I’d have to stand at the top of the stairs while my husband walked the bag down it to get it to fully drain. Turns out, it was put in incorrectly and wasn’t properly draining. I learned this while checking to see if my bladder healed. They strapped me to this metal table horizontally, but they had to turn the table up vertically to get it to drain at all. I’m lucky I didn’t get a serious infection.
For the first several months after I was still moving much slower than normal, but I was loving every second of getting to know Moses. We have been inseparable since his birth.
He is a total Mama’s Boy & I couldn’t be happier about it. Since he’s our baby, I try to appreciate the moments more. I try to not complain when he needs more of me than I have to give. I will carry him as long as he’ll let me. I will nurse him as long as he wants. He’s my baby & I won’t rush these precious last moments.
He’s my second chance at being a boy mom. I messed up my first time so badly & was “robbed” of my boy mom experience by my relapse after his c-section. I missed so many important parts of his life while I struggled to get sober. I so desperately wanted a second chance.
I got my second chance & this time I won’t mess it up. I was convinced for so long that God wasn’t going to let me have another chance with a son as “punishment” for not taking better care of my first. I was given another chance in exchange for my ability to have anymore children. He was well worth it.
[*Just to clarify- I do not see my girls as a punishment at all. I love them each to death, they are amazing & have taught me so much about sisterhood both at home and the broader sense of the word. They are each a piece of me and a necessary part of my life lessons, some I’m learning now & others I’ll continue to learn along the way.]
He has the sweetest heart & knows just how to melt yours. He’s a total cuddle bug. He loves music & dancing to it. He’s picky about food, but when he really likes something he makes it know with a loud “mmm” and a smack on the highchair. He’s shy around new friends, but once he opens up he has such a fun personality. We can’t go anywhere without someone stopping to comment on how beautiful of a boy he is. On two totally separate occasions, an elderly woman has walked up to him just to tell him he makes the world a better place. That can’t be coincidence.
He still nurses regularly throughout the day and at least once at night. He’s in 2T clothing already and around 25 pounds.
He has 8 teeth. 4 on top, 4 on the bottom. He’s cruising along, but not yet walking on his own. He’s starting to say a few words. He now says “stop” when his sisters are bothering him too hard. It comes out more as “op,” but it’s clear he knows what he means. He also now says “up” when he wants to be held.
We had a really nice simple birthday celebration for him last night We ordered Larosa’s Pizza and shared cake & ice cream. He “opened” his presents and played. His real celebration will be this weekend.
I am so very grateful for Moses and this past year. He has brought us so much joy, gratitude, and so much love. He has so much love just flowing from his tiny little body. His aura is absolutely hypnotizing.
I am excited to see who he becomes as he grows. I will continue to take these moments all in and not take any of them for granted. Before I know it, these days will be a distant memory that I miss terribly, no matter how hard it gets sometimes.
We love you so much Mosie ❤ You truly do make the world a better place because of you.
When I began meal prepping, I used “themes” to help me plan meals since too many choices cause me to feel too overwhelmed. Taco Tuesday is a pretty household common theme, but even when you switch up your ingredients frequently, tacos/burritos/burrito bowls can get overdone after so long.
For last night’s “Taco Tuesday” I made a Meatless Mexican Rice Casserole just to change it up a little. It’s a super easy pantry staple meal that can be versatile depending on what you have/what your family eats.
It was really easy to throw it together and really yummy! Everyone especially enjoyed the homemade tortilla chips! I personally would have enjoyed a bit more heat, but since more kids than adults were eating it, I kept it super mild. Next time I will also add onion.
Let’s Get Cooking
For the casserole, you’re going to need:
14 oz Not Chicken Broth
1 cup Jasmine rice
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup sour cream
1 jar salsa of choice (*I used a chunky-ish garden style)
1 can corn
1 can black beans
1 can pinto beans
Cilantro (*fresh is better, but dried works also!)
Salt & pepper to liking
Cheese (*I used Monterey Jack)
For the chips, you’re going to need:
Tortilla shells cut into quarters (I use corn)
Vegetable oil for frying
1. • Add rice and butter to pot, stir frequently until butter is all melted. • Once melted, add Not Chicken Broth & bring to a boil. • Once boiling; cover with lid, reduce heat, & set timer for 20 minutes.
2. Mix together the canned ingredients, salsa, and cilantro in a large bowl while the rice cooks.
3. • Once rice is finished cooking, move to a cold burner & fluff with a fork. Stir in sour cream. • Stir in contents from large bowl + salt & pepper until completely mixed together. • Top with cheese. • Bake 30 minutes uncovered at 375° in a 9×13 dish.
4. • While casserole is cooking, fry your quarter-cut tortillas in batches until they resemble golden tan chips (they harden more and more as they dry). • Sprinkle sea salt after each batch.
Happy Monday!! It started out a sort of overcast morning over here on this day so I’m catching up on housework. I have a sort of “unwritten rule” that dreary/overcast days are for housework and sunny days are for yardwork because I don’t want to miss any time with the sun.
We had a really great Sunday Family Day yesterday. The sun was shining, the kids were playing. We skipped church since the kids have some yucky cold symptoms going on and just hung out at home together.
My gardens have come along so much this week! There’s still tons to be done though! I’d like to get mulch down this week before the crazy amount of weeds return!
I filled my basket planter with these adorable trailing white flowers that will hang down under my Ukrainian flag. I’m really excited to see how far they grow!
I weeded & mulched this small garden bed this week. I used 2 bags and will still need to add at least one more bag here. This space was very low down compared to the grass around it and since it had probably never been mulched before I really want to get a good few layers on so the weeds don’t come back as heavy next year.
We brought our grill back out and bought a few needed grill tools for it.
Niko made hot dogs, vegetarian hot dogs, and the most delicious corn on the cob. I heated up the vegetarian baked beans & brought out watermelon, chips, and potato salad.
I planted this clematis in this planter. I’m so excited for the vines to take on a life of its own on this along the tower’s shapes. It’s going to be so beautiful especially when it has more purple flowers growing up it.
My ranunculus flowers are blooming and they are SO beautiful! One day I will have a much larger container filled with these beauties, but I’m SO happy with my start.
It has been so hot out lately & summer break is coming up so I decided it would be fun to get this inflatable pool for the kids to use this summer. It’s a lot of fun and the kids had a blast playing in it all day long.
Anyone have any tips on how to keep an inflatable pool clean all season? They always seem to get so gross after the first use.
I spoke with my neighbor last night and she gave me the compliment that my back yard is very pleasant to look at. That made me really happy. My hard work is making a difference for not only my own family but for my neighbors as well!!
It is my goal that while we are living in this home in Deer Park, someone nominates us for a Beautification Award. Her compliment made me really hopeful that could actually come true one day! I’ll just have to keep beautifying it for now.