Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas!!!


Here is my top 10 why I love Christmas:
10. This is the only time of winter when I really appreciate snow. Thoughts of Christmas make me warm even in the most freezing days of the year. Otherwise I wish it was hot and even humid Summer all year round. :)
9. I love reading all the Christmas story books to my son. They look especially joyful and colorful. My favorite one is “God gave us Christmas” by Lisa Tawn Bergren. I read her book “God gave us you” to our tiny Danny ever since he was in my huge belly. :) 
8. I love receiving, as well as making, and/or sending Christmas cards.
7. This is the only time of the year when I gladly switch from my coffee and a piece of bitter sweet chocolate to hot cocoa with marshmallows. Love them! Yum!
6. I love decorating Christmas tree and thinking of all the places that we’ve been to and things that we’ve done over the years with my beloved Hubby (we collect Christmas tree ornaments and they help us collect those wonderful memories).
5. I love Christmas music playing on my favorite KSBJ radio station out of Huston (I only wished they played it through January 7th - when we celebrate Christmas here in Ukraine).
4. I love plotting out the most delicious menu of the year for the Christmas family dinner.3. I love wrapping presents.
2. I love taking my son to different Christmas plays where there is always Santa Claus (of Grandpa Frost here in Ukraine).
1. And most of all, I love celebrating Birthdays and... THIS ONE is the most special to me!!! 

So, Happy Birthday, Jesus!!! 
And Merry Christmas to all!!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My passion for coffee


   I have always been amazed by those, who walk into a coffee shop and know EXACTLY what they want. I am usually instantly disoriented by the enticing aroma of coffee, indulging sight of pastries and the soothing sound of music. One day it lullabies me into a sweet tranquillity of mind, another - grants me a cheering march for the day. But I still hesitate what to order... 
    Put it ALL into one cup, make it a double shot of peace, spice it up with unending joy, sprinkle it with great ideas, lavish it with a mountain of fulfillment, add a pinch of self confidence... and I will be good for the day.
    By the way, where is my coffee?...  

Friday, July 29, 2011

Stop pushing buttons. Start taking Pictures.

     I really LIKE photography.
    No. I LOVE taking pictures.
    No. I’M PASSIONATE about it!!!
    Maybe that’s the reason I’m hardly ever IN them. Although I'D LIKE to be. Over the years my dearest Hubby came to understanding of my passion. He tries his best to quench my thirst for photographic proof of me being present at our traveling destinations together with my family. BUT! I am a perfectionist. So, I am very particular about the pictures I’d like to be taken. Thus the consequences...
    Recently we were having one of the “discussions” on the “why do you cut my feet off” topic.
    - I’m hardly ever in the pictures! You don’t even try to catch the moments Danny and I spend together! - I exclaimed in light despair.
   - Well, I do push the button, but you just don’t like the pictures! - answered my Hubby.
   - Then STOP just PUSHING BUTTONS and START TAKING PICTURES!
   - ... OOoooH! That’s GOOD! You’ve gotta use this one somewhere...
    Yes, my husband is a true diplomate and a peacemaker. I’m blessed...:)
    So, I painted our Son’s portrait and named it this way:
STOP PUSHING BUTTONS. START TAKING PICTURES.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A different perspective

    While travelling, one of the things I miss the most - is my kitchen at home. So, I gathered all of my favorite pots and pans, took a picture of them and finally painted it.  
    Now when I get a cooking buzz-bug and no kitchen to land it on I might just look at this pile and realize: it’s ok sometimes NOT to have it around...:)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

When a Baby is born so is a Mother

   Every picture tells a story. Well, THESE bear cubs tell a story of the birth of another cub - a man-cub... The most precious story in MY life - the story of our son’s birth.
   One very cold December night in the middle of an ice storm we were traveling to another city - about 100 miles away from our home in Kiev, Ukraine. I was having contractions and we were on the way to the hospital where our son was to be born. We already had called the doctor and she’d suggested for us to come as  soon as possible, considering the weather conditions: “It’s better for you to be here. If these are just a false alarm, you’ll stay in the Antenatal unit”, my doctor said on the phone.
    Long before that we had chosen this particular hospital for it was the best birthing facility in Ukraine built by USAID program. It was also one of the few hospitals in the country where the staff was not expecting bribes for every tiny maneuver: we didn’t have to bribe anybody for my husband to be present in the labor room; we were not expected to bribe the doctors to be there on time, or give something to the nurses for washing the baby or changing his diaper. Since the whole medical system here is built on corruption, this particular hospital was just an answer to our prayers. And even though it was 2 hours of driving away from us, we still had made our choice in its favor.
When we arrived at 1.00 a.m. on Friday early morning, it turned out the contractions stopped. I guess the adrenaline flow was too strong not just for my husband  who constantly checked on me on the way: “Are you sure, you are ok?! Should I stop?! Should I drive faster?!”.
     I was put into the pre-labor unit in a room with one tiny screechy bed and a doorless nightstand. This unit didn’t belong to the USAID program facility and came from the Soviet era. They had mercy on my husband and allowed him to stay for the night with me. Well, all three of us (my hubby, my big tummy and I) cuddled on a single sized bed. I barely slept. But I was warm. When in the morning my husband (my personal heater) left to get some “bare necessities” according to the hospital list (which are not considered to be bribing, by the way: trash bags, hand soap, paper towels, syringes, disposable gloves etc...), I was freezing. I was shaking and trembling and couldn’t warm up for anything. When I asked one of the nurses whether it’s possible to turn on the heater she sneered: “You’ll warm up in the labor room...” Oh, well, she was right. 
In couple of hours I was transferred to THAT long anticipated labor room and really WAS warm there. And not just because of the temperature inside  - I was running fever of a 102 degrees and really was not in the mood to go into labor. In spite of the contractions I just wanted to sleep...
    I was given a shot of fever reducer. Not long after that my water broke. The contractions became really painful, but I was determended, I was giving birth to my baby, naturally. My dearest hubby courageously bared all of my screaming and screeching and was writing down the intervals between the contractions which I very expressively "dictated" with my eyes. The political debates that were on on the room TV turned out to be a good distraction for me as well - after all I was a journalist...
    In a while I discovered new decibels of my voice that I had never expected from myself.
    The next few hours are somewhat blurry in my memory: the doctor and the midwife did not depart from me anymore. 
    About 2.30 a.m. I was told to start pushing, but I thought I already WAS... I tried and I tried and could actually feel my baby going back and forth in the birth canal. For the life of me I just had no strength to push him out. (I guess that fever completely wiped me out). 
    I was screaming: “I can’t!!! I just can’t any more!!”, and was sure I couldn’t... Then the doctor said something that sounded cruel, but has deduced me from a condition of desperate self-cherishing: "You HAVE TO. This is a little person inside of you. You HAVE to help him. You may not push and then in an hour will pull a bad baby out. And then what?!...” I was terrified. But I felt like I had no more strength left...
    There was a heap of people around me. Turned out I was the last one in the birthing unit, laboring, so all midwifes and doctors from the floor ran together toward my cries and were setting me right all together. My doctor was listening to the baby’s heart every so often and I saw, she started being nervous. I could feel the baby coming out but just didn’t have strength to help him. That scared me even more. I made a decision: whatever happens, though I shall burst, I’ll push him out. A thought about the worst came through my mind... I closed my eyes and pushed with all the strength I didn’t have... And... my son’s head came out. Everyone around me exhaled with relief. Couple more pushes and my baby came out. 
    And again I was terrified: my baby boy was burgundy-purple and didn’t make a sound.
    I guess the doctor saw the horror in my eyes and quickly said. “It’s ok. He’s breathing...” These were the most wonderful words I’ve ever heard...
    In just couple of moments our baby Daniel was squeaking on my chest. He was the most beautiful baby I have ever seen. 
    My sentimental husband and I were flooding the room with tears of joy, calling newborn grandmas, crying together with them on the phone and doing our first family photo-shoot... 
    The doctor said: "Yeah, he was a little too big for you...”  “And what would you advise me to do next time in case the baby’s too big?"...  Both the doctor and the midwife laughed in unison: “This is the FIRST - when while still being sewed a women is asking about the next baby... Usually we hear “never again” or “this is the last one”...
    We laughed together. They sewed me up and left our happy TRIO to enjoy our new to all and in every respect LIFE. 
    So, this is how our Daniel Jerry was born on an icy, freezing Saturday, December the 20th, 2008 at 04.20 a.m., 6,5 lb. and 19 inches tall.
    P.S. Now, why THESE house shoes remind of that day? I bought them specificly to wear in the hospital on the day when I step into my new role of a newborn Mother. They were the ones keeping me warm THEN, and this painting brings me warm memories NOW.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tamed Red House Shoes

    A couple of months ago my son won a battle with his house shoes - he learned how to put them on without anybody’s help.

    Not that earlier he didn’t do it at all, simply each time he tried to desperately avoid this unpleasant procedure. I literally had to resort to at times fine blackmail (aka... I won’t play with you until you put those house shoes on), and sometimes - to even bribing (if you put those shoes on, I’ll give you a cookie)... And Danny with a hopelessly hung head would go to the location of those savage house shoes, sit down on the floor and would puff for about 10 minutes: 5 minutes over one foot, and then (if by that time he did not start whining and fussing) he’d puff and huff for another 5 minutes over the other foot.  He probably, was thinking: “ Well why Mommy’s and Daddy’s house shoes are normal and easy, while I have THESE with the awful elastic bands behind! If only I was a pro at using scissors, I would cut them off without a back thought!”...
    But one day my son, probably, has recollected all my instructions on the subject of “the elastic band should be at the bottom of your hill”, held them down with his tiny hand and slipped first one foot in and then the other. Yahoo!!! The house shoes have been tamed!!!
    But here is the catch. This all happened when these house shoes had long lost their shape, form and color. The inside insole was playing pick-a-boo through the knitted material, and each side got inches of non-uniform fringe... Provisional and caring parents (that is we) were already planning to replace THIS “slip on chaos” with “normal house shoes like  Mommy’s and Daddy’s”... 
    So unfair! As a matter of fact a major achievement just happened: the kid struggled, thought out strategy, studied the structure of the object, fought for the cause, looked for solutions... And finally HAS solved the problem..., and all of a sudden we palm off another one on him... 
    But, that’s INDEED what we - PARENTS are for... To help our little ones find the second wind and strive for better.:)
    Nevertheless I have decided to immortalize the memory of THESE first won house shoes and... painted them.
    The picture is called “The Serious Talk”. And the models are a pair of Danny’s house shoes and pair of Daddy’s... “swim fins” size 13... (it was necessary to reduce them a little for aesthetic reasons though.):)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

It all started with the RABBITS

   It all started with THESE RABBITS.
   My Mom gave me THESE house shoes for New Years.
   As far as I remember myself, my Mom’s has always made the holidays unique, unexpected and unforgettable.
   For a long time we didn’t celebrate Christmas - after all I was born in the Soviet Union... Then Ukraine got it’s independence, opened up for the Gospel, my family and I got saved - and Christmas became a very special day for us just without presents... They were all given at New Years - after midnight.
   Mmm... usually not GIVEN but - BROUGHT to, HIDDEN from, FOUND on a fun quest and really enjoyed - no matter how simple the gifts were.
   I remember when I was about 7 years old and still believed in Santa Clause (in my case, it was Grandpa Frost) - just after midnight on January 1st, the door bell rang. Mama urged me to run see who it was. Naive me - certainly rushed to open the door... There I found a pillow case stuffed with presents and lit candles in a Christmas tree shaped holder. It seemed magical to the little girl I was: the tiny golden branches where circling around the tree stem making a tiny fairy ring... I was mesmerized and of course believed this all was left by Grandpa Frost that rang the door bell and ran off on me.
   Only years later I found out Mom asked the neighbors to ring the door bell...
   One year my Mom put just a hand full of small greeting cards under the New Years tree. Certainly I was slightly disappointed at first, but upon reading MY card I found the fun instructions to the next clue to my hidden presents. Before we knew it our whole family was running around the apartment looking for clues, tripping over each other (for the lack of space for the real running) on a quest to our holiday gifts. We laughed till we cried.
   My Mom encouraged me to write cards to Grandpa Frost - and somehow he always brought what I was asked for... or Mom suggested what fun would be to ask for...
   She made holiday posters with our family pictures and the most significant moments of the year.
   Yes she made everything so special.
   A couple of years ago my husband and I were celebrating New Years at my Mom’s. Just after midnight the door bell rang. Mom was doing something, so I went to see who it was. I opened the door and couldn’t help the tears... there was a pillowcase stuffed with presents and the Christmas tree shaped candle holder making that same magical ring from my childhood... MOM!!!
   My Mom continues to make everything special. And now when I am a Mother to a wonderful blue eyed little boy, I am STILL a little girl to my Mama, who turns everything into a fairy tale.
   Last New Years she gave me THESE Rabbits. They were the beginning of my collection of House Shoes. They continue to make me smile and thank God for my Dearest MAMA.:)))