Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Our Advent Calendar-What Are You Doing This December?

I am known to procrastinate many things, Christmas preparations are not excluded.  It seems like I am having a hard time figuring out a perfect time to start my prep.  If I prep too early, by the time Christmas comes, the tree looks a bit tired, the Christmas decorations have collected dust, and the gifts have been opened.  If I prep too late, I face the risk of what happened two year ago.  You can read about it here.  I laugh every time I read this.

The other day, I read Tsh's post about an easy Advent calendar that she created and was inspired to begin planning our December!  The kids had a day off today, so we wrote our list of supplies and headed to a thrift store and Joann's (there are great coupons for that place online) and bought the stuff for this craft.  Now, I am NOT very crafty at all.   When I look at the handmade things Alyssa makes, I let out a deep sign as to acknowledge her skill and lack of mine.  But this project turned out a success!  I loved that all of the kids participated with Ab's leading the whole thing!   We found a huge frame for $5 at the Salvation Army and purchased the rest of the supplies at the craft store.

It took a while to come up with a list though.  I wanted something doable, fun, stress free and cheap.   We decided to splurge on one activity- The Singing Christmas Tree.  We justified our purchase by making this be our Christmas gift to each other and the fact that with our new arrival in February, we will probably not be able to attend this event for a few years.   Here is our December at a glance:

1. Continue decorating the house
2. Attend Follow the Star
3.  Add some ornaments to the tree
4.  Attend Singing Christmas Tree
5.  Sing Christmas carols
6.  Make paper snowflakes
7.  Read Christmas/winter Jokes
8.  Check out books about Christmas at the library
9.  Christmas and birthday gift shopping
10. Attend Appostolic Faith Church's Christmas Celebration
11.  Bake and decorate cookies
12.  Drive through Winter Wonderland
13.  Make and send greeting cards
14. Read a Christmas story
15.  Complete a random act of kindness or two
16.  Celebrate in winterwonderland   :)
17. Make stove-top popcorn and watch The Nativity Story
18.  Celebrate hubby's B-Day
19.  Make hot chocolate and watch The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.
20.  Decorate a gingerbread house
21.  Attend Grotto's Festival of Lights
22.  Read one of the four Gospel versions of the nativity story
23.  Open stocking stuffers
24.   Christmas Eve
25.  Christmas Celebration in church

I will most likely be writing these on a post-it note because I want to have the freedom to change things around and not feel guilty about it.  What are some things you'll be doing with your families?  Please share but know that I might steal your idea or two!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Just In Time

My sociology professor once made an observation that we live in what is called a 'just in time' society.  The longer I live, the more I find it to be true.  Getting to work, dropping kids off the bus stop, bringing them to swimming/piano lessons, arriving at church, finishing up dinner, arriving for an appointment,  cleaning before guests arrive, (the list can go on and on), I have a tendency be really good at getting things done just in time and not a minute earlier. Which wouldn't be so terrible if I lived (to steal the words of Mathew West's song) "in a small little world, population-me".  But because I usually have to tag along my little family, continuing to live -just in time- puts lots of stress on me and them.   Add winterish weather plus a kid who just learned to tie his shoe and I end up really miscalculating the time we need to get out house and drive out of the driveway.

I don't know what it is with me and not liking/willing/trying to arrive early somewhere.  Am I afraid that the time will be wasted or that I would be bored or that I would have to occupy my kids with something longer than necessary?  I don't know.  Probably a combination of these things.  The fact is, that when I happen to make it somewhere earlier than needed, I actually like it a lot.  I relax on the road; I relax when we get there.  I am able to transition and focus on whatever it is I came there for.

Today was another example of me and just in time.   My sister, my kids and I finally made it out to take some fall pictures.   Unlike many other people, we waited until almost middle of November to do it.   I spent about an hour choosing and ironing clothes  and dressing the kids only to completely forget that 45 Degree F is actually fairly cold and I should have spent that time choosing some decent coats, hats and scarfs for them.  We ended up taking a few decent shots.  It started raining soon after we left and the forecast for the rest of the week is more rain.  In other words, we took these


My hotblooded girl did not complain about not having a jacket.

With a soon to be big brother.  He can hardly wait.

Now and then (Fall of 2010).  

The four of us.   

The five of us  ;) 

Thanks, sis.  We did it again!  Just in time :)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Involuntary Captivity

Have you ever wished that the time would slow down so that you won’t have to be in such a rush all the time?

I am sitting in a clinic waiting room to which I have been bound for the last three hours. Thirty more minutes and the GTT (a test to check whether or not I have gestational diabetes) will be over. The past three hours of this semi involuntary captivity got me thinking about how all the complaining about running out of time to do things and always needing to go places is only because we have that which so many of us take for granted. The health to do it with.  It might be sort of clicheish to be thankful for being healthy, but honestly, He who grants it to us should be praise often. It is because He gives and extends His mercy to us, who often use and abuse these bodies of ours in order get things done, to cut corners, to make it to the end of the day. What if, one day you were informed that the test results didn’t come back negative. That more tests needed to be done. That ultrasound and other scanning needed to be performed. And the flow chart would continue….

My mother in law’s illness is still so very fresh in my memory. I vividly remember the time stopping for all those who loved her. It is as if nothing was more important than catering to her needs and caring for her. All the chores she was always busy doing around the house became irrelevant to her. The last couple of months of her life she mostly spent in her bed, taking medication, waiting for the pain to ease up a bit. It was so painful to watch a woman who had so much strength and endurance to raise 17 children in a Communist country be so still, quiet, immobile. Involuntary captivity at its best. When she passed, things went back to normal for most of us with busy families and the rush resumed and time started to fly again.

It is not uncommon to hear the older generation talk about how things have really sped up these past few years. With the new technology that is supposed to save us time, comes this belief that we could accomplish more during that time therefore we should take on more responsibilities, more obligations. The other day, I had to do a big grocery store trip. The trip turned to several trips as I hit four different grocery stores to complete my list. I then came home, made dinner and baked pryaniki. Needless to say, by the time I sat down to read a book to my three year old, my husband was home and he ran to greet him at the door. “There went my one on one time with him, “ I thought. That day, spending time with him, while intended was not prioritized.  I failed to slow down on my own. I chose to be captive of vanity instead.  That day, I was given an option to choose.  What if that option no longer became available?

Dear God,
Thank you so much for the opportunity to sit here and dwell on how fortunate I am at this point of my life, that this test, though time consuming and tedious is only a test to check a condition that is common and not life threatening for most women. Thank you for inconveniencing me temporary to make me appreciate and understand that life is not an emergency. The health we are given is not a right nor is it permanent, but a blessing and that it is foolish to hurry the destruction of it with stress, hurry, overwhelming commitments and bad diet. Help me do my part to cherish what you have given me. Help me be a voluntary captive of each moment that makes up this short journey we refer to as life.


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Hood River and Family Picture Day!

About an hour drive from where we live is a city of Hood River which is known for their beautiful orchards, vineyards, country stores and stunning Mt. Hood views.  I don't know why we don't visit this place more often.  We've driven through a couple of times, but never really explored it.  

Right now, its the pear season there hence the Pear Celebration going on there this weekend.   Unfortunately, we didn't have time to visit the places that really highlighted pears and join their festivities, we did have time to stop by and buy oh...about 60 lbs of pears from a local farmer for a whooping $15!  And ooohhh, they taste delicious!

My sister generously offered her photography services in exchange for a ride there.  We thought the trade off was fair.  The time was way overdo to take our family picture.  I also wanted to do something I've never done before--maternity pictures.  I don't know why such desire all the sudden with the 4th child.  Maybe its the fact that if I want to remember what I looked like pregnant, why not capture it when I am looking and feeling my best--5 months:)

The family picture taking again proved to be classic: one family member is usually either not cooperating or making silly faces such as here:

We do much better by our selves:

Add caption

Or when there are two of us: 

Alas, a decent family one.  

These are the teaser ones my sister sent me.  I am expecting and hoping for a couple more family ones that I could frame.

But seriously, I have concluded that taking a family picture brings out the worst in us.   Its not like we are faking being a happy family, we are only trying to capture it.   All we are asking kids is to smile and stay still for a couple of seconds?  Why should it be such nerve racking process?  Is it  because we are afraid that at the end of the day we'll have no picture to frame?   I don't know.  Maybe we should do it more often.  Resolvedtoworship, I don't know how you do it!!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

'Tis the Season to Be Jolly

No, I am not talking about the winter season; I am talking about the harvest season going now right now here in the NW.  

In fact, it is this season that makes me a bit giddy carrying home fresh, organic veggies from my father's garden.  Love you, dad!    I am especially giddy because I get it all for free.   I get to reap what I didn't sow.  Or fertilize.  Or water.   Or did other things (that I have no knowledge of how to do) that need to be done in order to have seed turn into a fruit, eventually.  I know, spoiled is exactly the way I feel this time of the year.  Hey, it only lasts for a couple of weeks, plus, all this produce is super good for my baby boy (my neglect of posting makes this old news new for some of you).  See, I am not the only one spoiled.  My whole family gets to be :) .  

Anyhow, the above picture is from last week.  Whats missing from that picture is that we also get to enjoy zucchini, lots more tomatoes, parsley, dill, onion, and grapes.   So, somebody has not been doing a whole lot of grocery shopping and is not planning to for a couple of weeks.   

Having so many fall vegetables at hand, I decided to make this side dish that I always enjoy at Russian weddings.  I don't know the origin of it, but the main ingredient there is eggplant, which unfortunately is most enjoyed by only one member of my family--me, thus the reason I've waited so long for making this.  

Most of the ingredients came from dad's garden (again, love you, dad!).    Eggplant, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, and onions need to be sliced and sauteed separately adding about a tablespoon of oil before each vegetable.  Tomato sauce, garlic and parsley is then added to a quart size stove top dish and simmered for about 10 minutes.    This dish could be enjoyed hot or cold.  This is not exactly a detailed recipe because I am assuming most of my Russian speaking readers know how to make this.  There might be also another way to prepare this.   

Anyway, I've got to run and feed my love this goodness and hopefully convince him that eggplant should be his friend.  In the meantime, hope you are being jolly as well this season while reaping yours or someone else's harvest :) 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Camping: Past and Future

Both my husband and I, not to mention our kids,  enjoy camping.  There is something about being away from the daily routine of the same old, same old (though with kids it is hardly same old, but still), unplugging ourselves from most every technologically advanced tool, watching the night sky bright with stars while lying on a picnic table, doing some kind of water activity all with the company of good friends that appeals to us.   Living out of a duffle bag and a handful of kitchen supplies also appeals to us.   I love cooking outdoors and find it I do just fine cooking meals on one skillet and one pot.   But, almost every time we go, while feeling like we are taking half of the house with us, we still forget one thing or another.   Some things, we could do without, but others, such as a flashlight, the thing we forgot this time around, is pretty useful while in the middle of a forest.  So, in an effort to leave useless things behind, and be well prepared for our next trip, I am putting together a list. While I do that, I wanted to share some of the memories from this last weekend.  

BIG, yummy trout

Baby learning how to ride a two wheeler.  He can pretty much do it on his own now.

Log riding was popular.  
The kids seemed not to be bothered by all the driftwood on the beach.

                                                         All this camping is exhausting!

Love this picture of Abby.  
Finding tadpoles was even more popular.  The kids were occupied for hours!  
 Before returning the poor things back to the lake.  

These are pictures from the 4th of July weekend when we stopped by for a day to visit Peter's most entire family who were camping there then.

 Small boat riding.  
 Big boat riding

 Big boat broke :(

Good sweet, summer memories.