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!
It is time for me to play a little game I like to call “is it poop or is it nature?” I zig zag the yard picking up any poops that it was too dark to see in the early morning hours. Although, I’ve learned that if I see a poop outside of my pattern I must break it to get that poop first because they are huskies + they are puppies, & they will run through it or roll over it.
I have come to love this routine. I love the couple hours I get to spend outside alone with the pups before the kids wake up. Time I used to spend immediately focused on housework, as soon as my eyes opened.
I quit smoking cigarettes a little over four years ago. I had smoked them heavily since I was thirteen. I thought they helped me clear my head. I thought they helped me relax. I thought that it was because of not smoking that I was constantly on edge, constantly irritated.
Then I got these mornings back. I realized it wasn’t the lack of cigarettes. It was the lack of nature first thing in the morning, lack of relaxing in the crisp morning air hitting my cheeks before the world woke up listening to the sounds of nature. We aren’t meant to be cooped up inside like prisoners; children or adults.
Over the past month that we have had that these pups, I’ve done a lot of life reflecting during my alone time outside with them. I’ve re-evaluated what my priorities are. I have a clear vision of the path in front of my family & feel unity as a family. I have found a lot more peace & patience both in my soul & way I behave. I’ve learned to start letting go of my controlling ways. I’ve found confidence in myself & my parenting. Most of all, I’ve found real happiness for the first time in a long time.
I’ve noticed how much more well-behaved my children have been over the summer when their bodies can get proper rest, nutrition, nature, & attention. They are able to wake individually & come out to the day as they are ready, not at once like a prison. I’m not rushing them through every step of the day. I’m spending real time with them- not rushed interactions between duties, rushing to get the next task crossed off before I am out of time. I get to really know them as individuals, not as a group.
I’m really excited to be able to learn again, alongside my children. I am excited for how far they will get to go, at their pace. They will no longer be limited to only learning a dictated syllabus in a certain time frame. The world is their classroom, & my curriculum is pretty damn impressive, too.
I am excited to experience life again. No more living like a clockwork robot, living the same miserable day over & over on loop. I’m grateful that I get to spend what little time I have with them while I have them home with me, before they begin lives of their own. “The years are short, but the days are long” really is true, isn’t it? I’m excited to get to accompany my children on field trips- something I wasn’t allowed to do (on the VERY limited amount of) at traditional school due to the mistakes I made in my past, ten years ago. Something I wouldn’t have the chance of doing even if I could because I have small children who I wouldn’t be able to bring. Now no one has to miss out.
I’m grateful for the huge amount of support I’ve received from almost every single person I’ve talked to- even strangers who don’t know me at all. This wasn’t an overnight decision- I’ve been planning for years, I just never had the confidence to take the plunge. I didn’t think I was smart enough, enough in general, to teach my children anything until I was told that I have already been homeschooling my children since birth, I just wasn’t taking the credit for it. I don’t have to be “smart enough,” I GET to learn next to them. I get the chance to learn all of the things I didn’t pay enough attention to the first time + MORE, and I could not be more excited.
I may never be the type of mom that knows how to get stains out of clothes, but I am the kind of mom that throws our stained items in a bin + throws a random “tie dye party” with the kids in the back yard every now & then.
Knowing what to use to get stains out doesn’t make you a better mother. You don’t have to be Pinterest perfect to be a good mom. Life is not one size fits all. Live outside the box & find the solution that works best for you. You are already enough ♡ & so am I.
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!
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.
Happy Mothers Day to all the mama’s out there! I hope that today was wonderful for you.
I started Mothers Day weekend off at my parents house. My dad made a French toast, fresh fruit, and potatoes breakfast for my mom & I on Saturday.
After breakfast, my mom & I went to our favorite local flower farmer annual plant sale. I am so happy about my picks. We got them planted today (Sunday) and I cannot wait to see them grow! I swear her flowers just take root so much better than anything I’ve gotten anywhere else around town!
After the plant sale, Niko & I took the kids out to the annual Chili Cook Off & Dessert Auction at church. I REALLY enjoyed the vegetarian chili. My mother in law told me that she would ask the woman who made it for the recipe for me.
The dessert auction was fun. I couldn’t believe how much some of these families paid for these homemade desserts! One cake went for over $1000! It was to raise money for the Youth Mission Trip. (My father in law let us know today that the entire trip is paid in full thanks to the auction!) Next year I really want to enter a dessert or two into the auction. I wonder how much mine would go for?! 🤔
My father in law made & entered a “Strawberry Fields Forever” strawberry shortcake filled with real strawberries 🍓 and topped with a homemade strawberry glaze. He bid on & won that for us all to share. It was SO yummy! My mother in law bid on chocolate chip cookies for us to share. We also ended up bringing home a red velvet & cream cheese frosting cake.
We bought plain white photo frames. I wrote Happy Mothers Day in the center & the girls signed all of their names and colored with Sharpies. After they were finished, we printed out photos of Moses & the girls and put them inside of the frames.
Mia & I had gone to Trader Joe’s the afternoon beforehand to buy several bouquets of flower arrangements. I took the arrangements apart and I laid all of the flowers on the table for the girls to make new bouquets for the Babas (Ukrainian word for grandma 👵🏼) except for the roses (since they had thorns) which I split 3 ways evenly.
They ended up turning out really cute! I thought this was a super fun way for the girls to be involved. I loved doing this with Mia at Findlay Market last year and really wanted to be able to make it possible for all of the girls to create real bouquets together to gift to their Babas for Mothers Day and thought this would be the easiest and less stressful way to accomplish that.
We assembled all of our gifts together and packed them up for each Baba.
I wish I would have gotten a picture of all of the completed bouquets. They were really pretty. Both my mom & Ali were really impressed with the girls work. I really hope that we made them feel special today.
Mia & Ella each made me a few things. Mia made me a cupcake 🧁 at The Mad Potter & a really cute card. Ella made me a mushroom 🍄 at The Mad Potter, a clay bowl in art class, a bouquet of paper flowers each listing different reasons why she loves me, & a box of “coupons” for me to cash in for various things like hugs, a walk around the block, or helping me out around the house.
We went to church, then out to lunch with my husband’s parents, sister, & her two children: Noah & Milana.
The cousin crew! Ella, Sasha & Moses, Athena, Mia & Milana, Noah. I can’t believe how big they are all getting.
One of my favorite gifts I received (from Kaden) was my Ukrainian mosaic butterfly 🦋 to add to my garden.
Of course I have my Ukrainian flag flying proudly. Then I added the sunflowers for the bad-ass Ukrainian woman who was giving out sunflower seeds to the occupiers so when they die sunflowers will grow. I moved the blue & yellow flower over to this space to go along with the Ukrainian tribute to my people.
I love love love the way that it looks! The butterfly really pulls it together. I got my new plants into the ground and I can’t wait to watch them grow through the season.
Well, after this busy weekend, I’m so exhausted I can barely keep my eyes open to finish writing this so I’m going to call it a night. 5 am will be here in the blink of an eye.
As Teacher Appreciation Week comes to an end I just wanted to share with you our small DIY gifts the girls made for their teachers.
Ella made a clipboard for her teacher, Mr. Vample. Mia made a clipboard for her teacher Mrs. Mcgahan.
They also made a clipboard for our “bus mom,” Mrs. Mace, because she is just the sweetest and has helped our girls (and many other kiddos) get safely to & from the bus stop each day which we certainly appreciate.
We bought each clipboard at the Dollar Tree for $1.25 each, and the rest of the materials we had at home already.
Getting teacher gifts doesn’t have to be pricey. It doesn’t have to out-do any of the other parents. You don’t have to break your budget. It isn’t a competition to be the “favorite” student, or parent. Your kid can color on a rock, or put nature together to form a portrait of their teacher. They can color a card. Kids are so creative- the possibilities are endless if you let them take the lead.
Your child just showing their teacher they care and appreciate them enough to take the time out of their busy play to make them a small gift is ENOUGH. Gifts are meant to be from the heart & that’s exactly where a homemade gift comes from ❤.