Ukrainian Pysanky πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¦πŸ₯šπŸ£

Crafts & DIY, Motherhood, Uncategorized

Ella came home from school last Friday with a new school project: Economics Market.

All of her classmates will be opening their own “shops” at their desk where they will be selling a paper item that they make. They will be decorating the shops, telling a bit of information about the shop/what is being sold. Ella will be selling Pysanky, otherwise known as Ukrainian Easter Eggs.

Ella is Ukrainian- we all are. Her grandfather, my dad, is a Ukrainian immigrant. Needless to say, even though we are living in America, I feel the deepest connection to this war currently happening in Ukraine.

I’ve always been extremely proud to be Ukrainian, but the amount of pride and gratitude I have for my heritage now is immeasurable. I grew up being taught that Ukrainians are strong people; the strongest in the world. I had no idea that I would ever have to witness the magnitude of their strength in my lifetime.

My dad & I on his birthday last year (April 2021) after celebrating with authentic Ukrainian cuisine including pierogies & borscht.

I know that we are very lucky to be living in America, yet I feel the strongest yearning to be there. If my dad never came to America, this war would be our lives right now and that is a scary thought. Yet I still for some reason feel as if that is where I belong. 

That isn’t possible at this time, however, so for now I’ll just continue to embrace the culture at home with my family, even more so now. We’ll become fluent in the language and carry the traditions. One day, when it is safe for my small children, we will travel there. Today, we will make pysanky.

Pysanky

Pysanky is the word for Ukrainian Easter Eggs. Pysanky are believed to hold great power for peace & love in the world. They were originally used in Spring ceremonies to thank the glorious sun for warming the Earth after the cold, hard Winter.

The designs and symbols that are decorated on pysanky have significant meanings- usually a wish of good fortune for the person you are gifting your pysanky to. On Easter Sunday, you would gift your pysanky and kiss the recipient on each cheek for good luck.

There is an old Ukrainian folk tale that Evil (a vicious monster)  is chained to a cliff. Each year his helpers go around the world and report back to him the number of pysanky that have been decorated.

If only a few eggs are made, his chains loosen and evil flows throughout the world. However if many eggs are made, his chains tighten; allowing love to conquer evil.

With all of the evil going on in the world, we are going to need a LOT of eggs.

Setting Up Shop

First, we found pysanky coloring pages on Pinterest then printed them out. Ella colored each egg and then wrote a wish for each egg on the back of them.

Next, we colored the pages for her shop and we cut them out and assembled them.

“At Ella’s Ukrainian Eggs, you can find Ukrainian Easter Eggs which are believed to hold great power for love in the world. Each egg has a special wish for you. Ella made these to support her Grandpa from Ukraine.”

“If you love ❀️ Ukraine, you should get one of these Ukrainian Easter Eggs. Plus they’re great for Easter and it is to be believed that these Eggs hold great power for love ❀ in the world 🌍.”

Her shop turned out SO cute! I’m very excited to hear how her project and “shopping” day goes. I am also excited to hear what the other children made for their shops. I really loved doing this project together with Ella. I loved that we were able to incorporate our heritage and culture to make it more meaningful to share with her friends at school.

Easter Celebration

My dad’s birthday coincided with Easter this year (the day after) so we went over to my parents home to celebrate both Easter and his birthday with an Easter Feast from the Wodka Bar. They offered a special, limited Easter menu which was perfect.

The pierogies & kolachi were SOOO yummy! I cannot wait to try more food from there from the regular menu! I also am going to learn how to make delicious kolachi at home so I can eat it alllll the time!

Mia also made a pysanky for each of us. I loved mine so much!

Overall, this was a lovely Easter weekend and my heart feels very full & blessed. We got to spend time with both sides of our family. We did an Easter egg hunt for the kids and they received nice spring time gifts. We had lovely food that I didn’t have to prepare or clean up. We truly are so blessed in this life on Earth.

Happy Easter y’all.

Christmas 2021

home, Motherhood, Uncategorized

I’m a little late getting this post up, but I’ve been working around the clock making Christmas happen while taking care of a whole house of sick kiddos. After a week back at school, I’m finally finding my motivation again.

I used to be Team Halloween all the way growing up, but after having so many kids, I have to say: I think that Christmas may officially be my favorite holiday.

I love turning my home into a magical wintery Wonderland for the kids. I now dream of adding more and more to my collection over the years until my entire home is transformed for the holiday. I even considered getting rid of my other holiday decor (yes, even Halloween 😱) just to make more room for more Christmas decor storage! Maybe I’ll just go the Nightmare Before Christmas route and just live half way between the pumpkin door tree and Christmas tree door tree and be forever happy.

Decor

When you first pull up, this bow is the first thing you see on our lamp-post.

I wrapped a cute red, green, and “snow” garland that I found at Walmart around the railing then added this adorable woodsy-vibe bell from Hobby Lobby to the bottom.

On our porch, I added our “Charlie Brown” Christmas tree for the kids to decorate. I hung mini stockings on a plant stand and put the light-up “Santa Stop Here” sign from Hobby Lobby on top for some height so that people driving/walking by could see it.

The garland on the plant hanger matches the garland going up the railing. I bought those two large bows at Dollar Tree a few years ago and they are still going strong. I filled the hanging baskets with ornaments, & hung giant, sparkley snowflakes from Walmart.

I switched out the Fall mums for these holiday arrangements.

Then I added just a small string of lights to really finish it off.

I bought these stockings for our family back in 2018. In 2019, I was able to add “A” to our collection for Athena. This year, this pattern was discontinued from Target. I was able to hunt down one more “M” for Moses on Mercari which was a total sign from the Christmas Gods- last baby, last M available in this print to complete our family of stockings.

I am sitting here just in awe. I can’t believe how beautiful it looks so far and it’s only my first night decorating the tree. I am so full of gratitude- to be able to turn our home into a magical winter Wonderland for the kids, for my husband who works his butt off so I can make it happen, for overall good health and a happy, loving family. I really have so many blessings to be so thankful for that I need to slow down and appreciate in the moment. That is my wish/goal for myself this Holiday season: slow down, live hygge with my family, and really appreciate all that I already have.

Sasha, Moses, and I took a trip out to find some new Christmas decorations. We picked out a lot of new ornaments together. We decided to go with a “Mrs. Clause” theme which I now plan to use for the rest of my Christmases.

Mia picked out this beautiful tree skirt that “reminds her of snow.” In person, it shimmers for miles; the picture does it no justice.

I found this adorable mini wreath in the Target “dollar” spot to put under my Aria diffuser. It made it look so fun & festive, especially with the tree trunk cake stand it is on.

Of course we have our Christmas Spirit essential oil by Young Living going all season long!

I hung this “Letters to Santa” mailbox for the kids to write their letters to Santa to send off to the North Pole.

The kids love to countdown the days to Christmas with this fun countdown calendar we found at Target a few years ago.

I kept the kids Christmas baking outfits at the table for an extra Christmassy feel.

I found this cute floral display at Kroger that went along really well with the rest of my decor. It reminded me of the Wicked Witch of the West’s sister.

I didn’t do a whole lot to the bathroom but I did add a few small pieces for fun.

Activities

The kids went to get their photo taken with Santa. They got to pick out a cute frame to make to put their photo in.

I loved this mail box so much when we met Santa, I had to get a picture of it.

Ella, Mia, & I went to a Reggae Christmas show with my parents and Kaden.

It was a really fun night, except I got my first parking ticket which made me cry. I haven’t gotten in any trouble at all in almost 10 years now which is something I have been really, really proud of and I felt like I was a total failure.

We took the kids to The Christmas Ranch for the second year in a row. Last year we only were able to drive thru, but this year we walked around and rode the train. It is such a cool place! It was an absolutely freezing night though, and hope that next year we will be able to pick a night that is a little warmer so we are more comfortable walking around the village.

We went out for a night at Kings Island Winter Fest. We had a blast and enjoyed lots of hot chocolate! I always love seeing the park all lit up in Christmas lights & decor. The older kids got to walk around and ride some big coasters while the younger kids stayed in Planet Snoopy riding the kiddie rides and making Christmas crafts!

We found this cute scavenger hunt on Pinterest that we walked around our neighborhood as a family to cross the items off our list. I loved that the older kids were able to read the list, while the younger kids were still able to participate using the photos.

Treats

Snowmen Cake Pops β›„

We made a “Copycat Starbucks cake pop recipe” that we found on Pinterest for the cake pops, but instead of pink chocolate, we kept it white and tried our best to draw snowmen on each one. They tasted pretty similar to the real Starbucks cake pops, but it was very time consuming and turned out looking more like a distant cousin of a penguin than a snowman, but the kids had fun so πŸ€·πŸΌβ€β™€οΈ

The girls Christmas Baking Outfits came from Ikea a few winters ago.

Melted Snowmen Cookies β›„

These were definitely more my speed when it comes to bakery item decorating. I found the idea on Pinterest, but used my go-to cookie + frosting recipe. They were a great beginner cookie design- very simple and literally impossible to mess up since the melted look is what we wanted. They ended up being really cute!

Reindeer Cake Pops 🦌

Sasha & Athena were excited to get these adorable reindeer cake pops from Starbucks on a morning coffee run with mom.

Veggie Santa πŸŽ…

I found this idea on Pinterest. It was so cute and only took minutes to put together.

Christmas Tree Cheese bread πŸŽ„

This was another Pinterest idea that was so simple to make and tasted amazing! I offered both pesto and marinara to dip.

Dessert Spread

I set up a dessert buffet for the kids. It consisted of a cookie tray, marshmallows, fruit, and a Christmas Cookie “Dunkaroo-style” dip. It was supposed to have pound cake bites as well, but since the kiddos were sick my Christmas party was a bust and I decided to save that for New Years since there was already plenty of treats.

I set out sprinkles for the kids to decorate the whip cream on their hot chocolate, but again… sick kids meant we didn’t get to do the hot cocoa bar either ☹.

Hot Cocoa Bombs

I got these Hot Cocoa Bombs from Hyde Park Baker. They were a white chocolate shell filled with cocoa powder and mini marshmallows. When you poured the boiling water on them, they exploded. The kids thought it was really fun and yummy!

Advent Calendar

We LOVE our Trader Joe’s Advent Calendars. They have become one of our favorite Christmas traditions over the years. Papa George (the Candy Man) always brings them for us in the beginning of the winter season which really marks off the holiday for us as soon as he arrives with the big Trader Joe’s bag filled with them.

Elf on the Shelf

Some families go all out with their Elf on the Shelf ideas, but I take a more “done is better than perfect” approach to it. I enjoy watching the kids search for Elf in the morning, that’s all. We don’t tell our kids he is spying on them or that he judges their behavior in lieu of Santa or Jesus…. it’s just a fun hide and seek game for us.

I only documented my favorite times that Elf showed up, most nights were pretty lame to be honest. It was fun though.

Elf reading a baby Christmas book with his mug of Hot Cocoa by the Christmas Tree β˜•β„ πŸŽ„
On our first snow of the season, Elf brought us in some donut “snowballs” for breakfast β˜ƒοΈ
I thought this would be hilarious in the morning when the kids found him popping out of the toilet paper 🧻

The kids favorite one was when Elfie “pooped” chocolate chips in a jar. I wish I had gotten a photo of that one.

Gifts

Teacher Gifts πŸ‘©πŸΌβ€πŸ«

This was the gift tag which I thought turned out SO cute!

We got each teacher a holiday cookie from 3 Sweet Girls Bakery for the “C is for cookies”. Ella’s teacher got a cute little elf & Mia’s teacher got a sweet little snowman. We also got each teacher a Starbucks gift card for the “C is for caffeine,” then put it together in a small Christmas gift bag.

I had planned to get a photo of the teachers cookies, but only took one of the one I got to treat myself after the kiddos went to bed. They were all super cute though!

As a family, this has by far been our best Christmas yet. We were so blessed to be able to give the girls *almost* everything they asked for (why is my 8 year old asking for a phone anyway?! πŸ™„πŸ˜‚).

I have really been working on being more thoughtful with my gift giving and I loved seeing each of their faces really light up with each gift.

Gift giving really has an entire different experience for both the giver and receiver when you really take the time to think about what that person wants or needs rather than just picking whatever to cross it off the list. It makes it feel so much more special and meaningful.

This was the only photo I got of any of the kids on Christmas. Maybe next year we’ll be a “matching pajama” type of family πŸ˜‚.

We even had a surprise sack that Santa left our family filled with a little gift for each of us. We thought that was so thoughtful and that kids were so surprised! They loved that Santa stopped at their sign!

Overall, this Christmas has been absolutely magical. It wasn’t everything I had planned for since the kiddos ended up sick, but it was still just as magical. I already have SO many ideas for next Christmas, but also very excited about all that 2022 has in store for us!