Life Lately 6/30/15



It’s 11:21 am and Toly just fell asleep, and I decided to set my timer for 15 minutes and type out a post in that time..because, let’s be real-the hardest part is starting.

Summer is most definitely upon us! I am three weeks into my summer break (from work), and loving it! The first week I was like organize ALL the house mode, and then I simmered down and just decided to CHILL and soak up these precious moments with my 8 (almost 9!) month old. Gosh it’s been fun! Our days typically go something like this:

5am: Toly wakes up and I bring him into my room to feed him and then he falls back asleep with us.

7:30-8:30 I love officially waking up to see him handsome little face. He is so sweet and lets me wake up slowly. He knows how much I like to savor ever minute of sleep that I can. I’ll usually eat some breakfast while giving Toly some finger foods in his high chair. We then play in his room or the office as I continue to wake up. ;)

9:45-10:30 I feed Toly and he falls asleep for an hour or so again.

11:45 ish: Our day officially begins. Our schedule varies daily but almost always I try to get out of the house for a few hours-otherwise I get a little stir crazy. We’ve been loving going to my mom’s and mother-in-laws house. The kiddos get to play with Toly, and I get free lunch ;) haha

Toly typically takes 2 more naps and eats every 3 hours or so.

6:15 Daddy’s home. Toly spends some time with Andrey while I prep dinner. Lately Andrey has been requesting salads–his pants were getting too tight, and I happily oblige. There’s nothing like not having to turn on the oven in this crazy heat storm we’ve been having.

7:30 I feed Toly one last time and put him down around 8pm.

8-11 Andrey and I hang out, do stuff around the house, and have dessert…We really should switch over to tea or fruit or something healthy. ;) Our choice of ‘poison’ has been Talenti gelato. Sea salt caramel to be exact. Andrey let’s me scoop out the bits of chocolate. He’s too good to me.

Anyway, I’m not really quite sure how this turned into a daily schedule post, I guess it’s just what we’ve been up to. Life much different  now than when I was working and would come home and want to fall asleep by 8 o’clock. ;) I am really thankful for summer break! I’ve also been taking time to research Credential Programs for next Fall or Spring 2o16. I need to go back to school for another year or so in order to become a ‘real’ teacher. :) This past year I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and doubting. After having Toly, I was like “I want to stay home with my baby”, but I know 100% that teaching is something that God is calling me to do…I’m not 100% sure about when or how, I’m just choosing to trust Him and take it one day at a time.

Okay time’s up, and baby is up..Thanks for stopping by, and I hope that you’re having a fabulous summer so far!



How I lost the baby weight

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I’ve gone back and forth on whether or not to write about this, and ultimately came to the conclusion that if it helps someone, I should do it.

Lately people have been asking me what I’ve done to ‘lose the baby weight’. The question actually threw me off the first time I heard it because I had to think about what helped me lose the weight-and in order to answer that question we have to journey a little bit further back-even before my pregnancy.

A lot of you know that I struggled with my weight throughout my childhood/teenage years. I had an unhealthy relationship with food, and hated the way I felt about my body. I tried a bunch of diets, working out all the time, a personal trainer, a body bug (the old school fit belt), and nothing seemed to work. I remember looking in the mirror and physically feeling sick with what I saw. I knew that God didn’t create me to feel that way about my body (His creation), but I just didn’t know what to do. And then it hit me. I needed to pray about it. I was used to praying about everything else, and for some reason just thought that this ‘tiny’ party of my life was something I could try to figure out on my own and didn’t have to bother God with. I told God that I was tired of feeling this way about myself, and that I wanted Him to help me overcome my struggle. The change wasn’t overnight, by any means. Looking back now I see all the little steps I started to take, and the small changes that started happening in me as a result.

I met Andrey at my cousins birthday party when I was 18, and we began dating shortly after. I remember feeling self conscious about my appearance. He had just finished up his modeling career and it was a bit intimidating to be dating a former model. Andrey never once made me feel uncomfortable about myself. His mom/sister were both overweight and I think that helped him gain a little bit of perspective. After we got engaged, I envisioned myself becoming this perfectly fit bride, and while I did lose some weight for my wedding, I still wasn’t 100% confident in my dress…nothing a body slimmer suit couldn’t fix. ;)

Marriage was (and still is) a whole lot of fun! Andrey was very active and encouraged me to be active with him. We loved to go on bike rides, small hikes, walks . A few years into our marriage I was complaining about my weight, and Andrey being the sensible man that he is encouraged me to do something about it. I did some research and decided to join Weight Watchers. I lost some weight, but more importantly I learned a lot about my eating habits. After doing the program for two months or so, I felt comfortable to try to maintain my weight and healthy habits on my own.

A little while later I discovered healthy living/food blogs and started reading a lot about how other people were able to maintain healthy lifestyles. I learned SO many things that I still practice today. I started eating more vegetables, and being more aware of what I put into my body. I began trying to make more conscious efforts to exercise more…and not only at the gym. I also learned that I needed to give myself some wiggle room in my diet. There are some things I am not willing to give up (ahem dessert!) because it’s something that I enjoy so much.

So going back to the baby weight…

When I got pregnant, my doctor told me to not use pregnancy as an excuse to eat whatever I wanted. She said that losing pregnancy weight is difficult and the less weight I gain, the less I have to lose. I was a little bit thrown off by her comment at the time because I felt like pregnancy was the perfect time to justify eating copious amounts of whatever I wanted…hadn’t she seen the movies. ;)

I tried to maintain a fairly healthy lifestyle while pregnant. I definitely wasn’t perfect, but I was motivated knowing that I was growing a little human. One thing that I did not keep track of was how much weight I gained during my pregnancy. A few years ago, I decided to stop weighing myself. I don’t want a number making me feel good or bad about my body. I believe that this made a huge difference in how much weight I gained. The doctor still checked and let me know if I was making good progress, she just didn’t share the number with me. A little much, you’re thinking? Maybe, but it helped me!

After I had Anatoly, I definitely noticed some changed in my body. My diet consisted of my mom’s delicious cooking and my short walks were my exercise. After getting cleared by my doctor, I bought a Groupon for group exercise classes near my house. I pushed myself too hard on my first workout, and felt nauseous. It was a humbling experience. J I did a few more weeks of classes and then the holidays came up. I kept up the walks, but that’s pretty much it. In January I went back to work and everything changed. but that’s another post for another day. Unfortunately I never was able to figure out a way that I could work out while still making time for my little one, but school is about to let out for the summer (3 more days!), so I’m hoping to make exercise more of a priority.

Woah, this has become a super long post! I guess that’s what happens when you try to compact a few years into a few paragraphs. J

To conclude, I just wanted to say that I am the happiest that I have ever been about my body. It’s far from perfect, and I still have negative thought about it sometimes (I don’t think those will ever go away in the society that we live in), but it helped me grow a beautiful little human, and it powers me to live, so I’m really thankful for that. I fully believe that God was the one who helped me evolve to where I am today. He has helped me to love my body, and to view it as not only a physical being but also as His vessel. To love on and serve my family, my students, my friends, and my community.

I hope that this post has encouraged you! I believe that God can help YOU love your bodies as well.


P.S. I know I still owe you guys a life update! Coming soon my friends!


April showers bring May flowers…


May is my favorite month in New Jersey hands down.  The snowdrops and daffodils are behind us and warmer days are ahead.   On good sunny days Fiona plays out in the backyard while mama does some minor gardening & baby Gracie naps.   I think we are all most happiest when we get fresh air in our lungs.


^^^Today we spotted this little guy eating grass by the butterfly bush that is going to be blooming soon.  When Fiona saw him she yelled, “Bunny”!  I quickly managed to get a shot of him before he hopped away.  Isn’t he a cutie?!

Some little snaps of the backyard glories for you:




^^^The lilac babies bloomed two weeks ago and it was so heavenly!  Sadly they don’t stick around too long.  Until next year you beauties:)


^^^ Right next to them are two overflowing yellow mini rose trees.  I have no idea what they are called. But there’s so many little mini rose look-alike flowers on branches falling down.


^^^I loved the spread of these tiny purple flowers across the green grass. It was picnic perfect:)


^^^I was so shocked when I saw these dahlia roots spring up from the ground.  What?! The dahlias I planted last year survived.  They came up beautifully last summer and my neighbor Pearl warned me to uproot them and put them in the basement in the fall so they don’t frost over but I completely forgot about it until it was already frozen over.  I was so sad about it and thought I had lost them for sure.  I figured since they are next to the house and right next to our laundry which generates heat they must have not frozen over. I couldn’t of picked a better spot for them;)   I will be extra thankful when they bloom :)))


^^^Last week these Monet’s Blue Iris’ bloomed to the right. My iPhone photo doesn’t do them justice. To the left are some Hyacinth Orientalis Blue Jackets. Both of them were scattered throughout the backyard.


^^^This week the “Ceaser’s Brother” Iris’ bloomed.


^^^Soon this baby will be in full bloom!  There are four different peony plants in our garden but only two bloomed this year.  And I accidentally broke one of the stems of one of the plants.  Oopsie Daisy!


^^^ And shortly after the roses will follow.  This year I actually tied the branches to the trellis and it’s been growing so much better.   #BLOOMAWAY

This month was a lot of work with pulling weeds, cleaning up leaves, and pruning.  We enjoyed every bit of it!  The warmth of the sun against our skin was magnificent and greatly missed.  Hope everyone is enjoying the beauty of this spring season! Happy Gardening :)) #GROWINLOVE #NJFRESH

April Recap


Mommy life has been hectic yet so full of precious moments these days.  May is upon us and I feel like I’m finally getting out of my pajamas and sleepless daze state.  I made a little video of our girls below:)

Fiona just turned 22 months over the weekend & I can’t believe she will be almost 2 soon!  She is an independent and strong-willed little girl full of life.  Currently she loves talking nonstop and repeating everything we say.  It is rather amusing!  She loves ballerinas and pandas! She loves eating yogurt and even tried feeding Grace the other day before I stopped her to her utter dismay! “She hungry” is what she replied!

Her compassionate and affection side has gotten so much stronger since her little sister joined the family.  “Holdy Gracie” is what she says every morning when she wakes up so she can hold her sister.  She agoos and plays with her tiny toes and hands and then says ” all done” !   Also the way she talks to her little sister is in a high pitched loud voice as if Gracie can’t hear her is the cutest thing ever.




Grace’s Birth Story


March 22nd, 2015 we welcomed our new little daughter Grace Anna Kovalchuk into the world.  She is such a blessing in our lives and we couldn’t be more grateful to be parents of two precious girls!


So excited to go to the hospital:)

A week after my due date passed I still had no signs of labor.  At my doctors appt. on Friday they told me they would most likely induce me if I didn’t deliver over the weekend.  On Saturday morning I had my first hunch that I would go into labor.  I started having small contractions through out the day.  I went to the salon and got a pedicure, called my mom and updated her, went to Costco and stocked up on some things, and cleaned a little throughout the day.  Saturday night we had my friends over for tea and I talked about how I was sure I would give birth tomorrow.  I slept through most of the 15-20 minute contractions  I was having that night.  Sunday afternoon I monitored my contractions and noticed that they came and went and started feeling them 5-10 minutes apart but not consistently.  I was uncertain whether to go to the hospital since my water didn’t break yet but felt like I didn’t want to take any risks.  It was such a interesting day one moment I kept telling my husband that I felt like she was coming soon and then the next moment I felt like all contractions had vanished.  I even said I think I can still go to church but the hubs didn’t think that was a good idea at all.  We decided to drop off Fiona at our parents house and head over to the hospital.  We stopped at Jamba Juice for smoothies.  I have made that a tradition;)



We got admitted to the hospital closer to 5:00pm.  They started monitoring my contractions and blood pressure.  I had an amazing nurse Mary Ellen who made me feel so ready and comfortable.  I asked for ice chips and mentioned my all natural birth plan.  So far everything was progressing well.  The doctor came in around 7:00 and I was 5 cm dilalated and 80% effaced.  Yay! I was so glad I wouldn’t have to be induced.  I was half way there and hadn’t had any major pains yet! “I got this” I thought inside.  Roman and I played some Monopoly deal and laughed and talked throughout the waiting.  We guessed how big the baby would be born.  He said 7 lbs 2 ounces and was the closest!   An hour later my water broke.  My doctor came in to check me around 8pm and I was 7 cm dilated 90% effaced.  I was yet again so happy that in 1 hour I had dilated 2 cm.  “By this rate you should give birth by 10:00pm!”  exclaimed my doctor!

The next two hours however, passed by with little change.  The doctor said I was still 8cm and that I should relax.  My mind swirled “I had thought delivery got easier with the second?”  With Fiona she came 1 1/2 hours after my water broke.  My husband caught the discouraged look on my face and quickly came over and kissed me and told me that he believed in me and I felt so reassured!

I don’t remember much after that point but I do remember when I felt that I was fully dilated and felt the baby making me want to push. My doctor came in and told me to STOP pushing until they got ready.  I think that was the most frustrating and hardest part about this delivery.  I really wanted to push and had to stop myself and concentrate on keeping my legs tight and closed.  They got all the equipment out and I felt the delivery room come alive.  I don’t know how I kept breathing through those contractions.  After 4 pushes our little girl came into the world and they placed her right on me.  After that moment I completely forgot about all the pain and was enamored by our new arrival!!


I was the first to hold our baby Grace this time around. Saying shh to the babies cries and at the same time having my own silent tears.  They continued to wipe her and I just lay there my arms wrapped around her yet again in awe of the miracle in it all.   I was so thrilled and so tired all at the same time.  After the delivery room calmed down a bit, I breastfed the baby.  She did so good within the first hour she was born.  My husband went and got me my favorite falafel pita from Jimmy’s!  Good thing they are open until 2am! ;) He came back we ate our late dinner and then they moved me to my permanent room.   When they brought her back to me I just sat in my room and thanked God.  I prayed over the treasure that we were blessed with.  I thanked him for a safe delivery and healthy new baby girl!







The recovery felt a little quicker this time around.  The only thing that I wasn’t prepared for were the cramp like pains from breastfeeding due to my utures contracting back into place.  Besides that I was up and ready when I got discharged on Tuesday!  I came home and a few hours later my husband picked my mom up from the airport.  It was so nice having her for the first week home.


Baby’s first doctor’s appointment a few days after birth :) Love our new bundle of joy!


My mom was such a blessing and helpful in so many ways:)  I had no idea how hard it would be with catching up on sleep while tending to both girls!  Fiona got to play and got used to grandma’s love and attention. Good thing my mom was here to make the first week a good transition and get me used to it all.  These days have flown by and this month seems like its been one day.  There are so many firsts and fun moments with Fiona and her new sister! She says goodnight to her every night before heading off to bed and in the morning rolls into my bed for some cuddles while I feed.  I just love it and am so thankful for two healthy beautiful little girls to spend my days with.

Anatoly Ivanov:6 Months


Hey big boy! You turned half a year old on Easter! I know I keep saying this every month, but this past month has been my favorite! So many fun developments and changes.

6 months

Here are some of the things you’ve been loving lately:

-Ripping the foam toys from the top of your pack ‘n play mobile. You have quite the grip

-Toys. You’re finally starting to ‘play’ a little with your toys. Most still end up in your mouth, but sometimes you’ll

-Light and bright colors. You love to stare at our chandelier and room light when it’s on, and anything bright catches your attention/gaze for a while.However, you highly dislike the sun in your face.

-Pinching mama’s arm, and daddy’s face with your little claws.

-Having your toys in your mouth. It’s the cutest!

-Being read to…well we like to pretend that you like books. You’ll usually sit through 1/2 a story. You love to grab the pages. We got you a little, blue Russian Bible that your dad likes to read to you. I’m not even going to try(with reading in Russian), but I admire him for his efforts. :)

You’re starting to kick your legs around when on your tummy, but no crawling yet. You got (2!) teeth this month. You were such a trooper. I remember looking at you when you got your first tooth and thinking about how grown up you suddenly seemed. We started solids this month, but I’m not too sure that you’re ready for them. I think I just have to do better with my timing, because you don’t seem too excited when the spoon comes your way. So far we’ve tried avocado, peas, sweet potato, and carrots. I think you liked avocado best, but what do I know. ;)

You’re little personality is starting to come through more now. You have the CUTEST laugh(s)-yes, you have more than one kind. There is this one you have that comes out maybe once a day and it is the best! I can never catch it on camera because it’s usually short, but gosh it’s cute! You’re always in the best mood after you’ve eaten (who isn’t?!). Your eyes smile at me and you start babbling away. Your syllables of choice are “ba-ba”. Sometimes you fall asleep while eating and when you wake up you like to be held for a few minutes. You’ve started resting your head on my shoulder and it just makes me want to freeze the moment. I know that you’ll soon be running around all over the place, so I’ll take all the cuddles I can get.

6 months (2)

Here’s to many more amazing months and years Mr. Ivanov! We love you more than you know! <3

Anatoly Ivanov: 5 Months


Hey handsome! You’re 5 months old! In the blink of an eye you’ll be half a year old, and then 18 before I know it! You have been the most fun this month. I mean, you’re always a blast, but lately you’ve been curious about everything. I wonder what your little brain is thinking when you stare at the world around you. You love facing forward when we hold you, because you want to see all the action. Sometimes when you’re sleepy you’ll still let me hold you in the huggy pose. I love those moments. I cannot believe that once upon a time I held you lying down in my arms.

Things you’re loving lately:

  • Putting everything in your mouth…toes included.
  • Bathtime. Always a favorite. Lately we’ve been putting you in the big tub and letting you soak for a few mintues longer. We don’t do bath time every night anymore, and sometimes you get stink-ay! ;) Sorry bud, it’s not your fault.
  • Your daddy. You always brighten up when he is near. At one point I felt like I was ‘the boring’ parent, but then I realized that I’m just more quiet/calm, and that seems to be a-okay with you. I need to balance your daddy out. ;)
  • We’ve moved you into your crib this month, and you went back to sleeping through the night (as opposed to waking up once). You are still being swaddled…We need to drop it, but I just can’t seem to convince your dad.
  • You ROLLED OVER this month. You kept trying (and getting frustrated) for a few nights, and then you did it! You typically like to roll over when on your play mat, but you’ve done it in our bed too! You like to look around for a few minutes, and then you start to fuss because you can’t roll back yet.
  • Talking. Move over “AGOO”, you’ve been babbling more sounds lately. It’s fun to ‘talk’ with you.
  • Sitting up (assisted)
  • Playing ‘airplane’ with mama. It’s about as wild as I get. ;)
  • Playing with toys…especially anything you can grab and shove in your mouth.

You smile back at us, and turn in our direction when we are near.I just love how much more interactive you’ve become. Here’s to another great month my love. <3

And now I’ll leave you with a stream of baby photos. :)

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Anatoly Ivanov: 4 Months

Hi you guys! Long time no talk. I’m still alive, I just fell off the blogging bandwagon-yet again. I’m sure you’re back to read the East sister’s birth story, (Congratulations Natalie!<3), but unfortunately you’ll have to wait on that one. While you’re here though, I thought I’d finally catch you all up on my little babe’s monthly updates-if you’re interested, that is. :) Anatoly will be half a year old on Easter (April 5th), so these past two updates are looong overdue. Hopefully, I’ll be able to pop in later this week with a life update as well.

I decided to change the style of writing in these updates from EAT/SLEEP/PLAY to more of a letter format. Hopefully they will be more interesting to write/read.

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Hey big boy! I cannot believe that in two short months you will be ½ a year old…but lets get to the present shall we?! You are THE BEST! Your adorable smile, makes an appearance much more these days. You are a very happy baby, and that makes for one very happy mama! You laugh all the time too! You love to be tickled, and mama is glad to have found your ticklish spots…actually papa found most of them, mama just copied. Speaking of papa, you have one pretty amazing father. He is quite smitten with you! He is so proud of you, his first born son. He is so good at this parenting thing, that sometimes I feel incompetent;) He can swaddle you tight, tight, tight-whereas mama is afraid. Yes, you are still being swaddled. I’ve been trying to talk your dad into dropping the swaddle, but he thinks you need more time. Your hands are always in your mouth, so I’m thinking that you are ready to learn how to comfort yourself when you wake up, or are tired. Mama has a break coming up from work in a week, so hopefully we will get to that. My goal during my break is to cuddle with you all day long! Edited to add: Mission accomplished! J I told your dad the other day that the weekdays are so long, and lately weekends have been so filled with things to do as well. I think that’s why I love your meal time so much. It’s almost like God’s way of telling me to slow down. You’re eating like a champ these days! I’m looking forward to introducing you to solids, but I think I want to wait until you’re a little bit older.


You’re an excellent sleeper (I wonder who you get that from?) ;) Most nights you sleep through the night, but sometimes you will wake up once or twice. A few days ago you got a little cough and stuffy nose, so you woke up then. You got over your cough pretty quickly love. Mama felt all guilty that you got sick because I thought maybe it was from all the germs I bring home from school-seriously the kids cough ALL DAY LONG, but then I read that it’s normal for you to get sick a few times, and it even helps build your immune system, so there’s that! Move over mommy guilt! J

We had your dedication this month at church. You did an awesome job! I think you liked all the lights upstage.We didn’t get any good photos (womp, womp!), but it was recorded, so hopefully you’ll be okay with just watching it in a few years.


:)All in all, it’s been an awesome month, and I’m looking forward to seeing you grow my little man.

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Love, your mama

Snow drops


Sunday was my due date!  And it quietly passed by with no signs of labor.  I love that any day now our daughter will enter this world and spring is most definitely in the air.  Today as I raked some leaves from all the wind we’ve been having & to speed up my delivery;) To my delight, I noticed the beautiful snow drops that had sprung up in the backyard!  I was so excited to see these little specs of white. I think God smiled when he saw how happy I was.  Snow drops for me will always be special because I remember them from the first time I ever spotted them here on the east coast after my first brutal winter.

To me it represents rebirth.  New life.  A new season.  Our little baby that I am so excited to meet any day now is another representation of just that!


morning joy.


Good morning!  Happy March! I’m so excited for this month! Can you tell why?


Here I am at 38 weeks pregnant!  It snowed right before and during the whole church service yesterday and it was just beautiful! I love when it snows on Sundays!  So since my last post in the beginning of February were I was talking about how slow this month would be…. well…i don’t know what I was rambling on about.

February was not slow at all…. From weekly monday doctor check ups to cleaning and reading my plan away I’ve been a busy nesting bee.  I would also have off days when all I would want to do is sleep and cuddle in bed with Fiona.  For the last month of my reading plan I decided reading in bed is a def. no no for pregnant me!  Our bedroom is upstairs and tends to be much warmer than any other part of the house so hence why I would fall asleep reading away.  Some days I didn’t fret it so much because it was almost peaceful.  Overall, I did feel like this has been the most well intentioned month I’ve had in a long time, as a wife and mom.  We are getting ready for the due date: baby bag is packed, mini crib is up, and Fiona is ready ( i hope) :) !  This pregnancy has flown by and I can’t believe that I have 2 weeks left.  Can’t wait to hold my baby girl!


Fiona is 20 months old today and a little chatter box repeating everything I say!  We somehow always manage to get up when daddy wakes up for work and meet him downstairs for a little morning worship session.  I turn on a Pandora station and fiona twirls away to the sound of the music.  I absolutely love our mornings.  I know it won’t be like this for much longer.  Just the three of us!   The sun kissed snow outside sparkles through the window and the crisp air in the kitchen gets us ready for a perfect family cuddle to send daddy off to work.

Happy Monday! And hope you have a beautiful week ahead filled with abundant living and God’s grace!