Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A new blog.

For some time I will be mostly posting on our new blog.
Check it out and you will know why!


Friday, June 11, 2010

Looking back.

Looking back... Today was 14th anniversary of the day we met... This day is more meaningful to us than our wedding day. On this day, 14 years ago, the history of our family had begun. Our eyes met, the sparks flew, and miracle happened. Ever since many more miracles keep on happening, and life every day becomes more full, complete and bright.
This morning I was greeted with a bouquet of hand picked wild flowers. This bouquet not only brought a smile to my sleepy morning face, but also reminded me that there is no greater happiness in life than being loved. I wish everybody to find love in their life. The world will become a better place then...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Memories dear to me.

I have very few things that are very dear to me. The things I managed to bring from my homeland. The things that remind me of my far away loved ones and the times of my youth.

The golden earrings were given to me on my 5th birthday. My grandma from my Dad's side did make sure that I have something to remember her by, even now, approaching my 35th birthday.
The watch, made in the country that no longer exists (the USSR), was my Mom's present when I graduated from high school and got accepted into the university. And, since it was made more than 20 years ago, it is considered antique.

Today was a special day for me as I have my watch picked up from a repair shop. They had been tucked away for at least 8 years, patiently waiting to be brought to life again. And it finally happened! Now I need to get back into the habit of winding then up every morning.

And last week I was given one more thing that had become very dear to me the moment I opened up a gift box.

It is a charming silver necklace that my music teacher so thoughtfully presented me with. I have been so touched by this beautiful gift, that it instantly gets into the category "memories dear to me", the things I will cherish forever.

I had to stop taking my piano lessons for now, and already miss seeing Mrs. D. on a weekly basis. Learning to play piano with her tender, yet firm, teaching approach has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. I pledge to continue playing the "old pieces" and will try to encourage myself to try new ones. Thank you, Mrs. D. for everything you've taught me and our daughter.
We love you!

Friday, June 04, 2010

It finally paid off!

When both Ivana and Leona want to go fishing with Tata, it is no surprise. He has been taking them fishing and teaching them the way to cast, find a bait and reel the fish in, basically, since they began to walk. The girls are running to dig for worms on the side of the house as soon as they smell the opportunity to go fishing. Ivana will crack snails and hook them up like there is no sliminess or stickiness, and almost certainly will pull a fish out of the lake.

Leona has just learned to cast on her own, and is very excited about her achievement. Milana's B-Day present was a pink fishing pole that she couldn't wait to finally start using, since it was given to her in the winter.

Once, Mirek helped her to cast the pole, she held it in her hands for a few minutes and then ran off to play with dirt and rocks. She forgot about it and so dd we. The pole was in the water till next day, when we came again and were astonished to see a fish hooked up to it. The fish was dead, unfortunately, but we still announced "first catch" for her.
For the last two weeks or so, Mirek was on a roll. He was determined to get the biggest fish in the Delaware river. He has started writing an article for a European fishing newspaper and was in desperate need of a visual proof of a river monster.

Believe it or not, the girls were the troopers! Waking up at 4:30 am, to be on the river before sunrise IS quite an adventure and a challenge for kids their age. They would spend a few hours on the river way before the sunrise, when the morning fog is simply majestic. When the air is freshly crisp and full of early morning sounds very little words are needed. They would sit next to each other, shivering a bit, and watch the world slowly wake up.

And by the time they are ready to come home, they are full of wonderful stories to tell. "Mom, guess what! We saw a bear with three cubs!", "Mom, guess what! We saw a fox!", "Mom, guess what! We saw thousands of tad poles eating dead fish!", "Mom, guess what! We saw golden eagle!", and so on. And their Mom would have just woken up and fed breakfast to their two younger siblings... Oh, well. Soon enough the other half of the family will join in!
I think Mirek has been creating some fantastic memories for the girls that they will cherish forever!

And... ta-da! It finally paid off! The river monster it is! It's a carp, weighing about 20 lb. Mirek did dot have a scale, unfortunately, but he said his hand was really hurting him when he was holding the fish. That picture will become a great addition to a great fishing article he has been working on.

Now he wants to catch even bigger one. But next time it will be fishing in the Great Lakes, lakes and streams of Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana and the Pacific Ocean. It is a countdown...

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Busy weekend=fat wallet.

When the time is pressing, there is a need to take active actions! Some people were vacationing and resting this past Memorial day weekend. But not us. We were working really hard. All of us!

Trying to raise some extra money for our trip we had spent two days at a local flea market. The girls were selling the toys they no longer play with, Mirek was getting rid of some of the tools he no longer uses, I was trying to sell extra household goods, mostly from a vacation house we used to own.

Sales went well. Mirek was giving great deals to his customers and tools had always been hot items at flea markets. The girls made good money, too. And to boost their sales even more, for the second day I had baked two batches of cookies for them to sell as well.
Ivana was in charge of a "Toy Booth". And both Leona and Milana were hiding from the sun in a "Mom's made on the spot tent out of a blanket", shouting, "Homemade cookies for sale, homemade cookies for sale!".
They were so cute together that people did buy a lot of cookies, one customer came back for seconds and a few people just game them a dollar or some change because they thought the girls were hilarious. They really were! Milana was caught picking her nose while advertising the amazing cookies. Oops... The lady laughed and bought 3 cookies for a $1.oo anyway.

Bake sale yielded $22.00 total. Which, I think , is great! Ivana's toy both earned her around $25 in two days, not bad either.

My stuff was not that popular, but I did sell our two beautiful lamps, rug and 2 pillows set, and a few nick nacks here and there. My favorite moment was when a lady came to look at the dish set. She didn't need any plates, but wanted only cups with sauces. I was selling the whole set (8 dinner plates, 8 dessert plates, a salad bowl, and 4 cups with sauces) for $4.00. I figured that I'll charge her a $1.00 for the cups and sauces, but she handed me $5.00 and said,"Here, take it. I know how much they would cost in the store. I don't want any change." Oh, how kind of her! I was trying to give her a sugar bowl for free, but she didn't need one.

When we came home, the girls were busy stuffing the money into their wallets. It IS ready to burst!

Monday, May 24, 2010

A trip to a farm.

Is there a better place to be in the spring rather than on a farm? Hardly any. We thought so too and headed out to enjoy a lot of baby animals at a Quite Valley Farm.

The farm itself is a Historical Living Farm that belongs to the town but all the work is being done by volunteers. They have a phenomenal homeschool program where the kids actively participate and learn about gardening and tending to animals. All the volunteers at the event were dressed in the 1800s outfits and the atmosphere of the whole place was simply magical!
We petted a 1 week old baby goat, saw chicks hatching, watches piglets fight over food, said hello to a calf, played with bunnies, fed dandelions to the chickens, stroked horses and a mule.

The whole tour took a little over two hours but we simply did not want to leave. We were hanging out and tasted home baked bread with butter and oatmeal cookies that were being pulled out from the oven in front of our eyes. However, even a not so expensive sampling tuns out to be quite an extra expense to the entrance fee for our whole family(remember, everything times six!). We had to skip on a buggy ride that was again for extra money and a gift shop was a place only for looking, not buying. But our kids are fine with that and they have never thrown a fit if we tell them no. They understand and we still have a great time.
Jumping in the straw did not cost anything, so we took advantage of that! Even Mirek and Evan had a blast.
With the trip we are contemplating in the nearest future there will be many more days like that! Spending time in harmony with nature and animals, revitalizing our souls and reviving our spirits. It was truly a therapy for us and we dearly loved being on the farm and hope to be able to live off the land some time very soon.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Tea party picnic style.

That party took place before the master inventor (aka Mom) came up with a fabulous idea of setting up a table. The tea set that Leona got for Christmas has been cherished and so far all the pieces are still together.
On the menu there was black tea with milk and brown sugar, plus the homemade cinnamon tea rolls. Oh, I just love the little hand holding up the cup! The big sister was playing a role of a hostess and made sure everything went smoothly. Don't you think growing up with three big sisters is a lot of fun? I think so...

A "new" dining set.

When creativity goes a long way so do the fun memories!

A little playing with a chain saw and a useless (for some, not us, though!) stump on our property were a part of figuring out process. Mirek had made the chairs and I came up with the table idea. Everybody was cheering for lunch outdoors!
Wait, kids, Mommy has to go grab the camera!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Civil War at a glimpse.

When history comes alive... This is a surgeon talking passionately about the remedies and procedures of his time, the Civil war era. He had tended to the wounded soldiers, treated them against malaria, constipation, fever, amputated numerous amounts of limbs and lost a lot of soldiers to gangrene.
Soldiers are setting up tents, relaxing between the battles. The ladies are cooking rabbit stew and going around asking the soldiers to sign up a petition to frohibit drinking. The Captain refused to sign it. He said it was one of the very few privileges the soldiers could have in his regiment...
This was all volunteer program presented by local Historical Society. We were able to tour a Van Kirk's historical house, see the Civil war exhibit, touch the muskets, ask questions and simply enjoy a vibrant atmosphere.
The historical oak tree deserved to be on a photo together with history loving children.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Black Pepper and learning geography.

Question: When can the black pepper be used as a learning tool?
Answer: During lunch or dinner time!
We have a few placing mats that we set the table with for breakfast, lunch and dinner: ABC's, Numbers and Letters for the little ones, Multiplications, Great Composers, etc. While visiting Grandma really protested having a Human Body placing mat in front of her. She said she would not be able to eat. We gave her American Presidents instead, we did not want her to go on a hunger strike.
Lately these two, World Map and the USA Map, have become girls' absolute favorites. And today I simply had a blast watching them talking away and pointing on their maps at the places they are going to visit.
Now, every good cook should use whole black pepper for a chicken broth. And I consider myself to be one. Since we had chicken soup for lunch they were fishing out the whole black pepper balls and using them as pointers. They collected all the balls from all of us, and when it was still not enough, they started splitting them in half.
It was great to watch them reading the names of the countries, make decisions where they would go first, second, last, why they would want to go to a specific place and what they would do there.
Leona was saying, "Mom, I really want to go to Mongolia!".
Ivana was picking out the US states to visit on our cross country trip. Yes, we have been planning it and will embark on our adventure soon.
I just love when the learning happens unexpectedly and naturally with the kids' initiative. But mine and Mirek's love and enjoyment of learning geography definitely have been passed on to the girls.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Spring Concert.

Today was the annual end of the school year spring concert at our homeschool co-op. The program was started by a choir. The theme was Early America and the students did a wonderful job memorizing all the lyrics. "50 nifty United States" was a true hit! The children were so nicely behaved, orderly, signing their melodic songs...and then, it was time for the last song and everything changed! The kids got their baseball hats, younger kids put on glasses and then they were swaying and moving to the beat of a rap song. Everybody loved it!
Milana reciting "Five little monkeys jumping on the bed" while her peers WERE jumping like monkeys on a sleeping bag=bed. Another true hit with everybody!
Leona performing with her class. Here they are reciting haikus (Japanese word puzzles).
Ivana playing her violin. "Cripple creek" accompanied by a mandolin (Mirek playing) and then another solo "3rd Minuet" accompanied by a piano (her teacher playing). Sounded beautifully!
Ivana's art work exhibit.
Leona's art work exhibit.

Remember those boxes the kids were paint spraying and then assembling in the classroom? For the art display all the individual boxes came together and created a unique work of art.
We ended the concert with an International Dinner. There were a lot of dishes. All of them delicious, sophisticated, simply yummi!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

My Watermelon bed.

Happy Mother's Day to me!
This morning Mirek and the two older girls went fishing. They woke up voluntarily at 5:30 in the morning. It got pretty cold, so they had to dress up very well not to be cold while by the river. The plan was to get fish for Mother's Day dinner. Oops... sorry, no fish.

But... I got a wonderful dessert! A watermelon bed!

The girls had gotten expired by "Henry and Mudge Mother's Day Surprise" book and decided to make me a fruit surprise as well. "Mom, you can't look, you have to stay in your bedroom, read a book or something...", Ivana told me. It was nice to hear! Read a book! And not to be bothered! Wow, that IS a Mother's Day gift already!

I promised I wouldn't look and stayed by the fireplace, warming up. Yep, it is May and we are still making fires. Which I absolutely love, so the cold outside does not upset me as much.
Mirek had helped them with cutting the watermelon and apples in half, and the rest they took into their own hands.
I absolutely LOVED my gift! It made me feel very special, loved, cared for!
Thank you, my dears! I love you too!
Then we all got the biggest spoons and dug into it! Yum!

Friday, May 07, 2010

She is 6 on the 6th!

Here is the B-Day girl! She turned 6 on the 6th!
Leona's wish had been to have a party on the beach, and so the wish came true. We didn't prepare much. I had made the turkey and cheese sandwiches, pasta salad with veggies, fruit salad, cup cakes and juice.
She also had a surprise of having her friends come over and join us on the beach. First, we picked up her best friend, Madelyn. The two were sitting together in the back seat chatting away, giggling, all excited about the prospect of spending a whole day together on the beach! Madelyn birthday gift was also a great one. "Mom, Madelyn got me some Canadian cents and some candy!", Leona announced in the car. And it was only late in the evening when we returned home and I checked in the pouch, that was quite heavy. And the heaviness didn't come from "the cents", it was because of the DOLLARS! Madelyn goes to Canada for vacation every year and she gave her best friend 20 Canadian coin dollars. How great is that!
Then, we had two other families join us, with 11 children total. It was another surprise for the birthday girl!
We had such a wonderful day! In the morning it was a bit cloudy and drizzling, but by the time we got to the beach the sky had cleared and it was warm. We had some gusts of wind every now and then, mostly when we were having lunch and a dessert making things a bit harder to serve everybody, but still trying to keep it fun.
We brought a kite with us , but due to the wind in was hard to bring it up. It was too much wind, who would've thought it could be the case?
Fishing...was another activity that was enjoyed by all. First, Mirek pulled a strange creature...After examining it closer we found out it was a sting ray, without a barb or a sting. When Mirek was pulling it up the sea creature was curled up and was unrecognizable, but after a while it got relaxed and we could all see that it was a sting ray.

A baby brother was wearing girls' necklace and playing with nice boys toys, like this big truck.

Happy emotions of a happy girl!
Cute findings... a jelly fish.
Rude, rude bird-Red Winged Blackbird. It was all over our food! Not afraid at all, sitting on the table, digging in our bags, circling around, basically flapping its wings into out faces!
And that was a catch of the day! 28-30" striped bass! It gave a great fight and , in addition, Mirek got a lot of audience and admirers. Every fisherman's dream!
We sang "Happy Birthday to you!" and gobbled up the cup cakes iced with homemade butter/cream cheese pink icing. Leona was happy to share a secret with everybody, "Do you know what we used to color the icing?..Beet powder!"
On the way back it was quite in the car. Three out of five kids fell asleep instantly, the other two were too tired even to speak.
It WAS a day to remember! Happy birthday, our dear Leona!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Home work.

Sometimes the girls get homework at the homeschool coop we have been attending for a few years now.
In Ivana's art class they were learning about Ukrainian Artists. It is Louise Nevelson's work that the students are getting inspired by. Ivana brought home the box to be spray painted gold, she needed to find various objects throughout the house that need to be painted gold as well. In the art class this coming week they will be assembling the pieces together with a hot glue gun, and then create a tower out of individual students' boxes.
To get a sneak preview check out this link http://www.tfaoi.com/aa/7aa/7aa729.htm.

Homework for her creative writing class was to compose a short poem. That was what Tata helped her to create:

"Ode to ice cream that disappears."

Oh, Ice Cream, so sweet and light,
That my parents eat every night.
They may thnk I'm tight asleep,
But I always take a peep.

When I ask for it next day,
"fairy, they say, took it away".

Monday, April 12, 2010

Art on the beach.

When a morning shows all the signs of a beautiful day, there is no way our family will stay indoors. We have been known for eventually getting tired of the things to do and places to visit that are in the neighborhood. So our exploratory spirit keeps on haunting us.

We woke up, not so early, had breakfast, in no rush, and then around 11am decided that we wanted to go somewhere. A sunny day in the spring...Hmmm, where should be go?..Hmmm...The beach!!!

It is a bit over 2 hours drive from home to the Atlantic shore, but during those few minutes that it took the parents to ponder, the girls were saying in unison that it was SO worth the drive!
So, fifteen minutes later we were on the road!
We stopped by at a supermarket to get a few things for our picnic and before we knew it, we were looking at the blue vastness, smelling the fresh sea breeze, feeling the warm sand and trembling with the excitement of being by the ocean.
I took our mini art supply kit, so we got to paint a few shells. Even the baby was happy to participate. We all had a great time. Whether we played games, collected shells, painted, played with the waves, chased the gulls, tried to surf cast, went for a shore treasure hunt (finding a sea flee in place of a treasure), everybody felt like we had soaked up on happiness.
Happy "artsing" on the beach! Good for your heart, good for your soul, good for your spirituality.