Greeting



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.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Borrowed Treasure...

Blogging can be very rewarding! One of the benefits is actually getting to meet other bloggers and sharing in their wealth of knowledge and experience.

Here is a video I came across on Natasha's blog. I think it is such a great idea to implement in any church:


It made me think of what MY sign would say.

What would YOUR sign say?..

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

Last Friday our son had a Christmas party at his school. I was responsible for bringing birthday cupcakes. Since the theme was Jesus' Birthday, I really wanted the cupcakes to reflect it. So shopping I went...

I checked several party stores along with other larger retailers/grocery stores in search of anything that would at least remotely mention the true reason of the holiday. Nothing. There were snowmen, trees, gingerbread people, but nothing Christ-mas-y.

The cupcakes were baked and lovingly decorated with light green frosting and festive sprinkles, but I still felt that something was missing. Good thing there's always Google! After looking through a dozen of sites, I came across something that actually made me quite happy. A template for a "Happy Birthday, Jesus!" cupcake toppers! And it was right there, just in the next blog! :) Thank you, Di!

I decided I didn't want my toppers to be that big, so I chose a "two pages per sheet" setting at my printer and, as a result, got very cute little circles with the message I was looking for - "Happy Birthday, Jesus!" I really shouldn't disclose how late I stayed that night, cutting out little thingies and gluing them on toothpicks, but next morning they were the centerpiece of the party!

I was so glad that our kids actually got to celebrate the true meaning of the season - the birth of our Saviou Jesus Christ! The cupcakes were gone to the last morsel, and everyone had lots of fun!

Happy Birthday, Jesus!


Monday, December 20, 2010

Spread the Gospel with the Cookies!

I am following a blog of my very creative woman who constantly comes up with some great ideas. Her latest post grabbed my attention as it describes how she's planning to share the message of the Gospel through homemade cookies. I wanted to share it with you, my friends, too.

Please follow the link to read her post:
http://sowing3seeds.blogspot.com/2010/12/homemade-holiday-2010.html

Sunday, December 19, 2010

All In One Place

Finally my dear husband is back from his week-long trip to China. It feels so good to have the whole family in one place! Praise God for Illya's safe travels and return home!..

We were somewhat concern about his flight, as he had a layover in Seoul, Korea. The latest news were not too comforting...

South Korea to conduct firing drills from border island
South Korean marines on Sunday patrolled on Yeonpyeong Island,

the site of a North Korean shelling attack last month.
Dec 19, 2010
YEONPYEONG ISLAND, South Korea (AP) -- South Korea says it's going ahead with live firing drills from a border island despite a threat by North Korea to retaliate.

An officer says South Korean Marines will conduct the artillery drills on Yeonpyeong Island, the site that was shelled by a North Korean artillery barrage last month.

The officer also says that South Korea's military will "immediately and sternly" deal with any possible provocation by North Korea.

People on the island have been ordered to evacuate to underground shelters. Residents of four other front-line islands also were ordered to take shelter.

At the United Nations, the Security Council failed to agree on a statement to address rising tensions on the Korean peninsula. Diplomats say China refused to condemn the North Koreans for two deadly attacks this year that helped send relations to their lowest point in decades.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
(Picture was borrowed from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/20/world/asia/20korea.html?partner=rss&emc=rss)

What if Mary and Joseph had Facebook during the birth of Jesus...



I loved this video! I hope you will, too...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Have I killed my day in vain?..

I have had the laziest day ever! After all the muss and fuss of holiday shopping, packing, shipping, baking, school parties and such, my body demanded some serious rest. So I gave in and slept till after 11 am! It never happens to me! Even if my kids would let me, my body wouldn't. It just feels like such a waste of time!

Nooo, not today!

And what do you think I did after I finally woke up? Having lost the last grain of conscience, I skipped the breakfast and "good-mornings" and sat at my computer for the rest of the day, designing a photo book on Shutterfly! What makes it worse is the fact that it was my last-minute Christmas gift idea for my mother-in-law (who, by the way, was the one watching kids all this day!) Actually, for quite some time I have wanted to make a sort of a photo almanac, featuring the pictures that she had taken - she takes tons of them! - and give it to her as a gift. But to me, just the thought was intimidating. I mean, we now have 4,000+ pictures taken just by her! And those are just covering this very year of 2010!!! (I am NOT counting the pictures taken by me or my husband).

But she has been so good to me. I just wanted to give her something very special. Something above the average. So I braved the photo book idea.

I know she will love it. I can't wait till it arrives and then till the Christmas Day when I can actually give it to her!.. I'll make sure to take plenty of pictures of her facial expressions when she opens her gift! (Wouldn't that make a good start for the next year's photo book?! ;))


Our Year 2010 In Pictures

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Best eczema remedy so far...

This post might seem totally out of place since I have lately switched to the Christmas theme and mood. However, I feel compelled to share this piece of information for the sake of those who might  be going through the same struggles as we are in our house.

The thing is, our younger child has suffered from a bad case of eczema for most of her life. It all started when she was about 4 months old. Her face and scalp would cover with red oozing blotches every time she'd have anything with dairy or gluten (through my milk or directly, e.g. munching on a piece of bread). My son was, too, allergic to dairy so I knew the drill - exclude all dairy products from my diet. But with Daryna it was worse. Even the smallest residue of gluten, dairy or soy would make her little body ooze and itch. Our allergy saga was long and painful and deserves a separate post on this blog. But because of this condition, my daughter has developed eczema which is still a problem, although it seems that she has outgrown her allergies.

Daryna's skin is still very dry and scaly. We have seen many doctors, from pediatricians to dermatologists to allergy specialists, seeking a solution for her skin condition. We have tried every cream and ointment available - Aveeno, Eucerin, Cetaphyl, all sorts of ezcema relief creams, Rx ointments, corticosteroids, oils,.. - you name it. None of them has seemed to really help. Daryna would still wake up at night, crying and complaining of being all itchy. Some nights she would scratch her back to the point of bleeding! The only two things that brought a partial relief were bath salts and colloidal oatmeal bath treatments. I buy salt in bulk from http://www.saltworks.us and put only a cupful of it in a children's bath tub (not as it's described on the site).

A few months ago we had to relocate due to my husband's work situation, so I was forced to look for a new pediatrician. The new doctor seemed very concerned with Daryna's skin condition. She recommended a product which at first I considered another useless stuff. However, after using it regularly as prescribed, I noticed that my daughter's skin had smoothed out significantly, it wasn't rough or scaly anymore, and she had stopped scratching herself!

I was bathing my daughter tonight and just couldn't help but love her smooth little belly and back that felt like the baby skin should! I promised myself I'd tell the world about that "miracle remedy" that has helped my baby feel so much better.

It is called Derma-Smoothe Scalp Oil. It is an Rx item, so you'd still need a prescription for it. I just wonder how come none of the many doctors/dermatologists I'd seen never mentioned it to me! I wish I had known about this medicine earlier!  

DERMA-SMOOTHE/FS®
fluocinolone acetonide topical oil 0.01%
(SCALP OIL)
http://www.hillderm.com/products/prescription/derma-smoothe-scalp-oil.shtml
http://www.drugs.com/cdi/derma-smoothe-fs-scalp-oil.html
To use the body oil in children: Moisten the affected area, and then apply a thin layer of Derma-Smoothe/FS Scalp Oil twice a day for up to 4 weeks or as directed by your doctor.  
(We apply it once a day after a bath on the moist skin).


I hope Daryna's atopic dermatisis will soon be a thing of the past. In the meantime, I'll continue with salt and oatmeal baths, finished off with Derma-Smoothe. 


Here, I've kept my promise to myself! Hopefully, somebody will find this post useful. Do let me know if anything I wrote here has brought you or your loved one a relief from eczema or dermatisis. This would be the best reward for the time spent writing this post :)    

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The gifts of Christmas

I was caught off guard when last night at the church banquet the MC asked me what Christmas meant to me. I tried hard to put into words everything Christmas is, but there was so much left unsaid!

To me, Christmas is much more than a mere holiday. Since very childhood I was taught about the true meaning of this very special time of the year. My mother was a true believer, a sincere Christian, whose life was centered around God and living for Him. We as kids always knew that Christmas was ultimately about Christ, God's only Son, who came to Earth so we might have salvation and eternal life.

It wasn't until my teenage years that I made Christ my personal Lord and Saviour. But the truths, taught to me a child, were the seeds that led to that decision.

Now I consider Christmas a celebration of the wonderful gifts, given to all people by God Himself:
- the love of God the Creator;
- His mercy and grace;
- the miracle of knowing God intimately through faith in His Son Jesus;
- the transformation of lives of those who are willing to humbly accept the lordship of Christ;
- the abundance of blessings that are beyond our material world: love, joy, peace, hope;
- God's presence in our daily lives.

Of course, Christmas is also a wonderful time to spend with the family, to share those heavenly gifts with the loved ones, to enjoy the comfort and warmth with a circle of friends, to express love to each other in so many ways.

I am a giver in the family. To me, the best pleasure is to be able to get the gifts that would bring joy to others. This year is no different. I can't wait to see the faces of my kids when they find their presents under the Christmas tree. Here is what I got for them this year:    

- for my charmer of a son I got the Knight in Shining Armor costume set. He is a huge Backyardigans fan, and the Mighty Knights episode has been played in our house more than you want to know! Besides, he is naturally such a gentleman:


I also got him an R/C RoboRover from Ross, which - I'm sure - he will enjoy as much as being a knight :).

- for my sweet daughter I got a set of curved rails to compliment our Lego Duplo train collection and a children's digital camera since she is such an avid photographer:


- for my dearest husband - the Kindle lighted leather cover because he takes his Kindle everywhere he goes, and the built-in light is such a wonderful addition (saw it in action, fell in love with it forever!);

- for my mother-in-law - umm, still struggling... A Garnier Ultra Lift Cream with wishes of eternal beauty, perhaps, since I know she liked this product in the past, and a set of fragrant candles (always her favorite);

- for the kids of my friends - Spin Art Centers from lakeshorelearning.com (a big hit with my kids, not expensive but unique and entertaining):


- for myself, I actually consider it a gift to be able to buy presents for the above mentioned folks! :) I am sort of hoping for a small video camera to be able to capture the days of our lives, but since my husband is in charge of buying all the gadgets I will leave this up to him :).

There are a few other people for whom I've got the tokens of our love and attention, but let me not bore you with ALL the details :). Now that most of the gifts are wrapped, all I have to do it wait till the Big Day! :)

Though my gifts are not exactly the drummers, pipers, doves and "a partridge in a pear tree", I am sure we'll all have plenty of fun and joy on the Christmas morning when we, along with opening our presents, will also open our heart to give praise to the One who allows us to live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas is upon us!

The Christmas season is finally here! The tree in the park was lit last week, the city is all decked in lights and festive decorations, the stores are buzzing with shoppers seeking the perfect gifts for their loved ones. Even this notorious queen of procrastination aka CrazyMum has managed to set up her own Christmas tree in the house AND make a gingerbread house with the kids!

Our very first gingerbread house! 
Let's figure it out...
"I wonder who lives in this house!"
A gingerbread girl was quite delicious...
Needless to say, she didn't make it to the set :)
Kids are working on details.
Almost done. Still missing a few finishing touches. 

In the afternoon we went to a Christmas Banquet, hosted by the Slavic Church in Mission Viejo.

As always, the music and singing was top notch,
the food was delicious
and enjoyed to the last morsel,
and there was so much love in the air!

Tomorrow will bring more fun and joy as we will hang the icicles on the outside of the house and I will finish my Christmas wrapping...

Merry Christmas, everyone! Merry Christ-mas!..


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Coughing saga continues...

Despite our best efforts, the kids continue to cough. It gets worse at night. My heart breaks to hear a duet of coughing kids, as if they were in some sort of coughing competition.

I worry about my son more than my daughter. He has asthma, so every time he breaks into a coughing mode, I pray it doesn't lead to another asthma attack like the one he had last winter.

I was recommended two more cough syrups that have proven effective for my friends: Sinupret for kids and Children's Chestal Honey. Will make a quick trip to a store tomorrow to pick those up...

I miss hot summer days when cough was the least of my worries...

China again?!

Today we all had a bit of a scare and a good share of laugh.

Last Tuesday my husband announced he needed to go to China on a business trip for the second time in two months. Though the news didn't make me very happy (I hate when he's gone, even more so right before the Christmas), there was not much we could do. At least, this trip will allow him to get the needed miles to upgrade to a Premier Exec level for the next year... The flight, he said, would be on a Sunday morning.

As I am officially the queen of procrastination, I planned to pack his bags some time tonight. So we went to see The Tourist in the morning (what a great movie it was!), took a nice little nap afterwards and had a lazy Saturday overall. Until around 5pm, that is, when my dearest man looked at his ticket and realized the flight was actually tonight and the cab was about to arrive! I wasn't sure whether to panic or to laugh, so I did both! In 30 minutes all things were packed (it's a 7 day trip!), the shower taken, the kids kissed good-bye,.. and then we all waited 3 long hours till the cab arrived... Once again we realized how fast and effective we can be when caught in a jam :).

I sure hope it's the last trip to China (or anywhere, really) when we realize that the flight is actually a day earlier!..

Off to China you go, my love. Have a safe trip!..

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Stuffy nose, endless cough and other winter woes

So here we are again: cold weather, weakened immune systems, stuffed and runny noses, endless coughing and all the "beauty" of the winter season. My son's asthmatic condition makes it even worse for us since every coughing spell can trigger an asthma attack. And I've noticed that often the leading cause for coughing is nothing else but the congested nose... 


There are so many home remedies and OTC medicine to offer relief for cold and flu symptoms, that it's often hard to decide where to start.


"Saline, baby!" - says my good friend Lana, a registered nurse from Florida.
"A humidifier and Baby Vick", recommends my kids' pediatrician.


It seems I have tried it all. Saline is definitely on the top of my list, as well as a decent humidifier (how would we survive without you, my friend?!). However, when the congestion gets so very stubborn that nothing seems to work, I rely on my mom's tried and true method of hot boiled eggs...


First, I boil two eggs,


Then, while they're still hot, I wrap them in a cloth and apply them to my kid' nose just at the top of it, letting the warmth penetrate the nose (the real trick is to make your kids sit still and allow enough time for the procedure:)),


I like to use two eggs, but my mother-in-law suggested today that I use one and just roll it across the nose:
It seemed to work just as fine.


When the warmth gets to the very bone, the air passages naturally open up (for my kids it works much better than the hot steamy room) and allows for further manipulations.


If you even decide to try in on your kids, I do recommend you try it first on yourself, so you know how thin/think the cloth should be to allow the egg to warm the nose without burning the skin.


Another trick I've learned over the years is to have a GOOD (and I mean really good and effective) nose aspirator. A while back a friend of mine, an American missionary who lives in Ukraine, gave me an unusual gift - a nose aspirator she bought in Hungary. That thing is a work of art! You actually get to attach it to a vacuum cleaner to suck out all the mucus from the nose! That was one amazing gift! I am still using it. You can watch the demo of Arianna Nose-Vac at YouTube, however I must say that my daughter didn't take it as nice as my son or the kids from the demo :) -
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXGLdEVyTck
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIOSUZberyQ&feature=related


I have lately found some very similar products on Amazon, that do not require the vacuum cleaner and seem to be more cost effective:


 Nosefrida The Snotsucker Nasal Aspirator
Nosefrida The Snotsucker Nasal Aspirator

 BabyComfyNose Nasal Aspirator (Blue Sky Baby) 

BabyComfyNose Nasal Aspirator (Blue Sky Baby)

I haven't tried any of them personally but they seem to have the same concept as the Nose-Vac that has been our wintertime life-saver for over 4 years now. By the way, we often skip the vacuum part and use our own lungs to help kids breathe, especially at nighttime.


As for the cough,.. I am still quite at loss how to fight it. Another friend of mine, a mother of four, has recommended Echinacea/Astragalus herbal supplement from Herbs for Kids. She says it has been her go-to remedy for a couple of years now. I give it to my kids at the onset of the coughing along with Kid's Cough supplement from Sun Harvest. I am not as consistent with it as I should be, so my results are not as great as I'd like them to be. My MIL gives kids warm milk at bedtime and Pertussin (an herbal cough syrup we get from Ukraine). Combined together, these remedies seem to soothe the cough but nothing has proven to completely get rid of it. Perhaps, you might have tried and true remedies that work like a charm for your little ones?..


Friday, December 3, 2010

So it really does get busy for the holidays...

A few days ago I decided to stop by the post office to ship a small package to a family member. The place was so crowded I could hardly enter. The thing was in the morning, so I decided to come back later, hoping the crowds would leave by then. Bad idea! It was even worse in the afternoon! I stood in line and eventually managed to send my package. Is it Christmas yet?! I mean, it's just the first days of December!

The next day I made a mistake of going to Toys'R'Us, looking to buy a replacement for a lost lunch box for Bogdan. The store was a zoo, with one big snake of a line, stretching for miles, it seemed. And we talk about financial crisis and recession?! Not yet, I say, not YET! Shoppers' carts were overflowing with numerous toys, all sorts of gadgets, clothes and only-cashiers-know-whats. Of course, the store didn't have a single lunch box, since "it's a seasonal item" and apparently my son was the only kid to have lost his in the middle of the school year... I should do more shopping on-line, I've concluded. At least, there all items are in season and I don't have to deal with endless lines...

In the meantime, neighbors are busy putting up the decorations and the city had the Christmas tree lighting ceremony tonight, with carolers and treats:


Kids had fun, and I again stood in line - this time to pick up free cocoa and the cookies for the gang... At least, the drink was well worth it :).

I resist the urge to splurge on Christmas decorations, following the gentle yet strong guidance of my frugal husband ;).

I've done most of my Christmas shopping by now (many years of practice have trained me well) so all I need to do is some wrapping. I just hope I have enough wrap to avoid going back to the store... =)