Hello and welcome to the blog of one crazy mom!

Here I want to share about my life, my struggles and successes, the brighter pieces of my life's mosaics and the darker ones, too. They all are a part of the masterpiece God is working on, it just takes time to see a bigger picture.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The ones who alter my life...

They seem to follow me wherever I go. They create nervous breakdowns, lots of noise and plenty of mess. They alter my plans and often literally cause detours. They can be very difficult and demanding. They cost me many hours of sleep and my husband quite a few dollars.

Without them my life is boring, meaningless and sad. They are the source of constant joy, amusement and surprise. They unknowingly educate, train and strengthen my heart. They teach me about life and love daily. They carry the reflection of God the Creator, God the Father in their little hearts. They are my kids who make my life full and complete...

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." - James 1:17
"A cheerful heart is good medicine..."  - Proverbs 17:22
"Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well."  - Psalm 139:14
Enjoying the sunny weather at the pool...
One of a kind =)
Grandma's little helper
Morning hair =))

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving thanks...

I love holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, birthdays. It's just the time when we pause our life to relax, spend time with our family, cook, eat, and remember all good things.

Today we're celebrating in a small circle of the immediate family: my husband, his mother, our two kids, and I. And I am thankful for each one of them. Yes, I usually prefer to share our Thanksgiving dinner with a few close friends or relatives. But this year I am just so glad I have all my family here with me and I am not alone.

Recent years have been hard on many people I know. Some of them have lost their loved ones, while others have spouses, sons, daughters serving in the military overseas. Yet others who do have their families nearby can't afford a simple meal due to lost jobs, revoked houses and financial struggles. I am blessed. I could afford a nice fresh turkey, fruits and veggies, even a bouquet of roses. And I'm sharing the wealth with the most loved ones. Here, tonight.

Thank you, God! For "every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." (James 1:17)

Please keep us all safe - those who are home, and those who are far away; those who are fed, and those starving, too. May we have grateful hearts in all our circumstances, and not only on holidays. And may we have generous hearts, too, - to see the need where there is such, and to open our hands freely to meet it.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

This crazy, crazy California!

Argh, today I was so unhappy to live in California! I mean, the state doesn't even feel like a part of the US at times! I felt as if I were back in the Soviet Union, only there you could bribe to accomplish something and here even this option is not available (not that I am a fan of bribing, just saying :)).

So here is the deal. In the beginning of September my husband went to the DMV to get a Californian driver license. He passed the test and was given a slip of paper as a temporary license. This is my first complaint right there. What? A slip of paper? (Consider the fact that they also invalidated his VA license) I mean, every state we've lived at (TN, MD, VA) would give a real plastic license as soon as you pass the test! California, the richest state in the US, gives a PAPER SLIP!..

Now, they tell my dear husband that the license would arrive within 2 to 6 weeks. After 2 months (!) of waiting, we decided to call the place and see what was going on. Ah-oh, there was some delay, we were told, but the license was "processed and ready to be mailed any day". After 2 more weeks we called again - oh, here comes complaint #2: first you are put on hold for 30-40 minutes and then the pleasant voice tells you that you CAN'T inquire about your husband's license and he should call himself. Really? Would their bosses tolerate any of them sitting on the phone for 40 minutes just to take care of a personal, NON-work related issue?! Can ANY working person afford an hour on the phone during work hours?! Dah! So, I call, I wait on line for 40 minutes, have an unpleasant conversation with a pleasant voice, then manage a conference call with my husband, have HIM talk to them, and... "You probably already know that our machine that makes driver licenses was broken," - just ONE machine for the state of CA???!!! - "and we have been having issues with our new one" (oh, you've been having issues, indeed!). "Your license will be ready in 3 weeks"...

A week later we receive a letter from the DMV stating that due to some technical difficulties my husband's picture is not valid anymore (lost, ruined? what IS the problem with his picture?!) and he needs to go back to DMV and start the process again. ???? !!!!!! @%^#%&$*(*#$)(*)!!!!!

... I spent another hour on hold today, trying to reach SOMEBODY to tell them that my husband's temp "license", aka slip of paper, was expiring in 5 days and my husband needs a new one, just to talk to a mean, mean woman who neither would agree to even listen to me, or let me talk to her supervisor. Where else in the States, if you ask to be put trough to a supervisor, would you be refused your request? This is Soviet Union within the United States. People, wake up! California needs to be rescued! It will soon become a fully socialistic republic in its ugliest form and proclaim its independence from all the good things American, I'm afraid.

I'm going back to VA!... 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mostly for new moms :)

My two younger sisters are expecting their firstborns this winter. It's been fun watching them in their "nesting" process. They read books and browse the web in search of very best advice on parenting, exploring hints and tips for fault-proof motherhood, and buying the best products for their little ones.

I've been there, too. Six years ago when I discovered I was pregnant with our long-awaited son, I must have read tons of reviews to find the best possible options for the safety and comfort of my child. Then two years ago when our daughter was born I got into a "learning and exploring" mode with a new zeal. Now, being pregnant with our third child, I am surprised to find myself relaxed and even lazy. I've done my share of research. I've tried firsthand a bunch of baby products. I have saved the ones I loved, and tossed the ones that weren't useful. Now all I do is take my sisters' calls and tell them, "Sure, buy this" or "Nooo, forget it" :)

So here are a few things I definitely want to recommend to those who are just starting their journeys as mothers. I'll try to supplement each item with a link where you can read additional information and comments. Hopefully, my own research will prove useful for some of my readers.


Best breast care - Lansinoh Lanolin 

Lansinoh Lanolin for Breastfeeding Mothers 2 oz (56 g) Lansinoh Lanolin for Breastfeeding Mothers 2 oz (56 g) - at Amazon

I have tried it with both of my children. I am not sure if I could have survived the breastfeeding without it. It sure heals and soothes the aching nipples and provides much needed comfort for the mother. Lanolin is safe for the baby, so there is no need to wipe it off before the nursing. I used it mostly in the first month and when my babies started teething (trust me, you'll need it then!:)). Both Target and Walmart sell this product, and I highly recommend you give it a try. It's a life saver!

Best breast pads - Lansinoh Disposable Nursing Pads

Lansinoh 20265 Disposable Nursing Pads, 60-pack
Lansinoh 20265 Disposable Nursing Pads, 60-pack 

No, I don't work for Lansinoh :). It just happens that I actually do like these disposable breast pads. Again, they were my tried and true friends with both of my kids. I like to share good things with my friends, so I had also bought and sent those to my BF friends in the States and overseas. Those who couldn't buy it themselves (like my friends in Ukraine) requested them again and again, bragging how nice they were. Indeed, these are soft to the skin, very absorbent, they don't leak, don't iritate the skin and overall perform very well. I do like the fact that they are disposable (I know, I know, how earth-UNfriendly!) because this is one less thing to worry about for a young mother whose mind and hands are occupied with hundreds of things big and small.
Both Lansinoh Lanolin and Bread Pads were bought, packed and sent to my dearest sisters overseas. I am confident they will make great use of them. 


My choice for diaper cream - PINXAV

PINXAV DIAPER RASH CREAM 16 OZ - at Amazon - at the original retailer

So, why Pinxav? Because of its healing properties. If your child has a slight rash, then perhaps any cream will do. But when it's a serious irritation, you want something to HEAL the skin, and fast. Pinxav does just that. If you put a good layer of it over your babe's clean dry tushie at bedtime, you might be surprised to see a fully cleared skin in the morning. With my daughter I use it on the whole diaper area, not just the bottom. It is sensitive enough not to sting (which was the case with most creams we used) yet effective to reverse the effects of allergy and irritation.

Pinxav is pink in color and very thick, but not hard or stiff. A little goes a long way, so I find it very econimical. I usually buy a large 16oz jar and it lasts up to 6 months. The weirdest thing is that it remained fresh for all that time. You can buy it in smaller tubes as well.

One word of advice. Try to keep it from getting on the clothes. Do to its pink color, it might leave stains. I have never really had an issue with it myself, but my friend complained about it. So just as a precaution, use a cloth underneath your child when putting it on.

Best wipes warmer - Prince Lionheart Ultimate Wipes Warmer

Prince Lionheart Ultimate Wipes WarmerPrince Lionheart Ultimate Wipes Warmer

Prince Lionheart Ever-Fresh Replacement Pillows for Ultimate Wipes Warmer

Now some of you might wonder if you even need a wipes warmer. Before my son was born I wasn't sure either. As a matter of fact, I ad a friend who assured me that it would be a total waste of money. Am I glad I hadn't listened to her then! It sure has proved VERY useful. You would definitely appreciate it during middle-of-the-night diaper changes when waking up a baby with a cold wipe would be a thing to abhor. Just imagine how the baby must feel when you touch its rosy warm bottom with a cold wet wipe that absorbed all the chills of the winter night! I used the same warmer with both kids, without any compains (no, my wipes didn't turn brown, I just rotated them every other time I used one) and plan on using it again with my third child. I do recommend you get Ever-Fresh Replacement Pillows to enhance the performance of the wiper. But no need to go fanatic with those - one will last you more that they say, as long as you rinse it now and then. If it gets dry and yellow, just give it a good bath! Again, another thing I've packed for my sissies. 

It's getting late on my side of the world, so I'll have to pause here. Next time I'll share about other great baby products. Perhaps, an inventory of my old baby items will give a few good things to write about ;).

Thanks for taking time to read my reviews. Do leave a comment if you have an opinion about one of these items or if there's anything you'd like to read about.

Tired and stressed

Sounds familiar? :) I sure hope I am the only one feeling like this today. It's just been one of those weeks that totally sucks up all energy and inspiration. Juggling between tasks big and small, meanwhile carrying a squirmy little guy in the belly :).

Being forced to move to CA due to my husband's changed work situation, we rented out our VA house. Now our renters suddenly had to move out, and we are stuck with a vacant house that needs to be rented asap... Unfortunately, the house also needs a total make-over after the renters' "wear and tear"... Argh!

But despite the stress and fatigue, I know we'll get through this. Life is somewhat like a zebra - white stripe, black stripe, they all vary in width and length but inevitably switch from one to another.

In the meantime, let's smile and try to relax when life demands you to be all tight. I love how my kids love to play pretend. So I will, too, pretend that today is a lighter stripe than it is :):)

Bogdan is having a good laugh with his best pal Tim...

Daryna is enjoying her pretend feast.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Closed doors...

"With God are wisdom and might; 
 he has counsel and understanding.
 If he tears down, none can rebuild; 
 if he shuts a man in, none can open.
 If he withholds the waters, they dry up; 

 if he sends them out, they overwhelm the land."   (Job 12:13-15 ESV)

Have you ever felt like constantly hitting a closed door? Or like having the work of your many hours/days/years fall to pieces in a blink? I've been there so many times. And every time I'd wonder what went wrong. Every time I'd stand there puzzled, asking God why.

Even recently when my husband lost his job in Virginia and then was able to find another one in California, I was like, WHY? We had just settled in in our house in Woodbridge, and our life was finally starting to take shape. Moving across the  continent would definitely tear down what we had just built.

In my life there were many instances of closed doors and wasted efforts. None of them felt good. At least for a while. However, with time I was able to recognize them as those "ugly" pieces of mosaics I so disliked but which God used to build a grand picture:

- When after months of preparations and large sums of money paid to tutors I couldn't get to the university due to an unfair exam results, I hardly knew then that this failure would lead me to the Bible College which became my second home and ultimately made a way to a wonderful job and later to a great marriage;

- My broken engagement before I had met Illya seemed to also break my heart (mostly, because I so trusted God to lead me in this relationship and prevent me from mistakes), but later on it proved to be more than just a relationship, rather a training course for my future ministry with children and youth. How grateful I was for the lessons learned during that engagement!

Lost jobs, shattered dreams, missed opportunities are all those doors that often God allows to close on us. Sometimes He tears down things we tried so hard to build. Sometimes He "imprisons" us in certain circumstances. Sometimes He withholds the waters and lets us walk through the desert. But "He has counsel and understanding", "with God are wisdom and might". In His book were written all the days ordained for us before any one of them yet came to be (Psalm 139:16). And He is the God who knows the plans he has for us, "plans" - He says, - "to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11). 

Sometimes in His grace God will allow us to see a bigger picture and how the rough and dark pieces fit in to create a masterpiece He has in mind. Yet sometimes we just have to walk by faith, trusting God to take care of our mosaics. 

I still have a long way to go till I get to the point of more trust and less questions. I do know by now that God's work is never done in me and He will be faithful to complete it in me. So I'll let the Master take care of his masterpiece in my life. I'm sure I'll be impressed when He lets me take a look at the final result...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Even Californian winters get cold...

While my friends in Virginia bundle up in heavy jackets (not to mention those in Ukraine and Russia!), we still bask in the warm Californian sun. Some days are hot enough for a much-desired air-conditioning.

However, nights are a totally different story. We've started turning on a heater a while back as some mornings feel nothing short of freezing. Those of you who have kids are probably familiar with a perpetual struggle to keep your little ones tucked in and under covers. Both of my kids, Bogdan and Daryna, manage to wiggle their way from under the blankets and ofter wake up very cold (either crying in the middle of the night or simply shivering in the morning with inevitably runny noses). 

Last year I invested in "wearable blankets" which kids put over their pajamas at nighttime. This year Bogdan is still wearing the one from the last year, and I got Daryna the one in 3T (these blankets can be easily purchased one-two sizes up):

Bogdan in his SleepSack
Halo Big Kid's SleepSack - Blue (2/3T)

Halo Big Kid's SleepSack - Blue (2/3T)

Daryna is her Blankeaze
Blankeaze Green Star 12-18 mos. (22-27 lbs.)

Blankeaze Green Star 12-18 mos. (22-27 lbs.)

I personally consider it a life-saver in our house. Since I put it over kids' pajamas, it rarely requires laundering and stays functional for quite some time. I still cover kids with a thin blanket for added warmth, but I am no longer worried about kids getting cold in the middle of the night.

As for their little feet, I found wonderful slippers on Amazon which I believe will be our new favorite for a while. I got those during a 30% promotion (unfortunately, over now) and felt a winner. Bogdan and Daryna totally loved them, put them on and KEPT them on for the whole day. They are warm but not to the point to make feet sweat; soft enough to be comfortable, yet sturdy enough not to fly off the feet; and safe on our slippery tile kitchen floors due to the rubber outsole. Even Daryna keeps those on! So I give them two thumbs up!

Now I feel ready to face the cold Californian nights and chilly days. As long as my kids are cozy and warm (and happy and healthy!), no winter is too harsh (not that we face this option in our sunny Orange County, of course ;)).

Life CAN be beautiful :)

I used to think I was an optimist. Boy, was I wrong! As a matter of fact, I am one of the worst pessimists I know :)

But life IS beautiful. When my husband leaves on a business trip and then comes back, my heart is singing and dancing. When my kids insist I am the best mom of all, my doubtful mind gives way to my grateful heart. When the result of my cooking gets eaten in less than a day, I feel a winner again. Thank you, God, for those moments when we can lift above our struggles and doubts!

I've called my blog The Mosaics of Life for a reason. Life consists of pieces, big and small, beautiful and ugly, bright and dark, the ones we enjoy and the ones we try to forget. But all these pieces make up the wonderful mosaics of our life under the skillful fingers of the Master. The final piece is unique, amazing, breath-taking, one-of-a-kind masterpiece. It just takes some time to see how all those pieces fit all together.

In my blog I want to write more about the "pieces" of my life - the ones I wished never happened, as well as the ones I wish were more abundant. I also intend to write about the discoveries I make day by day.

So welcome to peek into my life, as I'm sure many of you will relate to things I've gone and am going through.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

My own BF weaning method :)

Just wanted to share my success weaning story. Both of my kids were breast-addicts, if you will. They couldn't fall asleep without nursing, they nursed for food, for comfort, for entertainment, for everything! I had plenty of milk and since they both were allergic to milk products I breastfed them both for almost 2 years. Now when the time came to wean, I, too, didn't want to create too much drama around it. For me, leaving a child with a relative for a few days so he/she weans on its own OR refusing to BF seemed too cruel. So I came up with an unconventional method which worked perfectly. Here it is:

- In a natural drug store buy a small bottle of herbal bitters (I used tarragon/sagebrush), additionally buy a natural food coloring (preferably, organic one of green or blue or other bright color).
- Without your child seeing you, first apply the food coloring on your nipple, then apply the bitters. It might sound weird but you want your nipple to look pretty bad. The bitters should make it taste bad, too.
- Now, when you child asks to nurse, try to talk it out of it, showing your nipple and explaining that mommy has a boo-boo. Be sensitive, show compassion, be sorry for such an inconvenience. Tell your child that you would love to nurse him/her but your nipple taste horrible now. Both of my kids were pretty much turned off by the look but the younger one still wanted to try, so I let her.
- Your child most likely will be unhappy about your bitter nipples (the trick is to get the most durable and most bitter thing for the nipple, so it leaved a bad taste even after the child lets go of the nipple). The child might cry, and it's ok to cry with him and try to comfort him. Don't refuse him a nipple next time he asks, but make sure to re-apply the ugly bitter stuff!

My son would wake up at night to nurse, so when he asked for a nipple, I'd remind him of "momma's boo-boo" but still offer him a breast. He refused to nurse within two days. without any drama. It was HIS decision. With my daughter it took a bit longer. She would refuse to nurse at first, then a couple of days later she wanted to try again. So with her I had to be consistent with the "boo-boo" theory. It took us one or two weeks all together with her. However, the whole process was easy on them and on me as well.