A Captured Gift

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On December 6th we threw an event with our church and a local studio “Predestined in love” to provide christmas photos for families in the area. It was a rainy day but we were still so happy to see so many families come out. Thank you Sandra for your serving heart and loving personality! Thank you to all the volunteers that showed up bright and early to set up and get the printer and everything working. Here is a recap that we showed at our Sunday service:)

<3 Merry Christmas

Anatoly Ivanov- 2 Months

IMG_6979IMG_6980Somehow my babe is 2 months old already! He has gotten so big, and with a fun personality to match! He’s very predictable (most of the time), and we can usually decode his cries. Unless they have to do with his tummy. I feel like I ate a bunch of new to him foods during the Thanksgiving weekend so we had a little fussiness. I always feel so bad when his tummy hurts because I’m never really sure what it is that I ate/drank. I can tell you one thing that I cannot have and that is my beloved mineral water. I feel like I want it even more now because I can’t have it.lol

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It’s been a joy to watch him grow this past month. His chunky cheeks make me so happy! We still have to work on the thighs though. ;) His skin has cleared up, and his hair seems to have stopped shedding. His eyes seem bluer than ever-but I know they still might change. He still loves bathtime. We give him a bath every night as a routine/associate with bedtime thing. We don’t always use soap, as babies don’t really get dirty. He seems content just to soak. My little brother Victor was over for bath time one night and asked if Toly has ever peed in the tub. We said “No”, and of course Toly decided to prove us wrong that night. #sillychild. Sometimes he get’s this adorable look on his face that makes me feel like he understand me. ;) I know he doesn’t, but still it feels like it. One time I was holding him and praying over him and I was crying, and this ‘concerned’ look he gave me was priceless.

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{PLAY}

He has started to like being changed. He usually coos and smiles throughout the process. Andrey likes to leave his diaper off for a few minutes to let Toly’s bottom breathe a little, and he loves it. I just realized that Gap onesies are the easiest to put on. The material is super stretchy, and fits over Toly’s head quite nicely. #Gapbaby. We were gifted so many diapers that we are still working through them. I did order a bundle of Honest diapers because I got a 1/2 off coupon in my email. I love the adorable prints, but if I didn’t have the discount, I don’t think I would buy the diapers on a regular basis. Although cute and au natural, I feel like they are too pricey for something that a)we go through so quickly, and b)ends up on the trash. Anywaaaay, back to the topic at hand…our little monkey. Toly had a bunch of clothes/blankets with monkeys on them, and also his little face sorta looks like a monkey (in the best way possible:), so his little nickname seems to have stuck with us. We started laying Toly down to ‘play’ on his play mat and he sure loves that thing! His legs start pumping up and down and his hands go wild. He’s a mover that’s for sure. A few days ago he ever rolled over. I think it was more accidental but still. :)

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{SLEEP}

IMG_9292We have transitioned Toly into a cradle (from his pack and play). While still in our room, the cradle is a flat surface, and I feel like Toly can finally move his noggin around if he needs to spit up. It took a few days for him to transition, but now he’s totally used to it. We’ve been using the Mom’sOnCall methods (thanks Nat!) for sleeping/eating/playing and we are so thankful that our babe sleeps so well. Typically he will go down at 9/9:30 and wake up around 4 for a feeding, and then sleep until 7. Then during the day, Toly eats around every three hours. It’s so nice to have a bit of a schedule. I’m hoping it can stay relatively the same when I go back to work.

*I’ll have you know that I had this post ready to go last week, I just have the hardest time selecting photos. Too many to choose from. <3 I’ll leave you with my current two favorite photos and video.

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-Olviya

 

Thanksgiving and date night weekend

Hi guys,

I hope you all had a fabulous Thanksgiving weekend! We sure did! We spent ours at both families homes, so by the end of the day I was just as wiped out as Toly. Somehow Andrey never runs out of steam. lol We didn’t go shopping on black Friday, and quite frankly I don’t feel like we missed out on much. I had purchased some things online a few days before Thanksgiving and it seemed like the deals were just as good better since I didn’t have to get my bottom off my chair. ;) How bout you guys? Anyone score some amazing deals that we must know about for next year? I actually went to Target on Sunday and it was so empty that it felt weird.

On Friday night we dropped the babe off at my mom’s house and had our first solo date. We actually tried to take our Christmas photos right before our date-you know since it’s not every day that I brush my hair and put ‘real’ clothes on ;), but we took too long to get ready and missed the sun by a few minutes, causing the pictures to be grainy/unclear, so we’ll have to try again this weekend.

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We were a bit full from our late lunch, so we went to grab coffee/kombucha at a new (to us) coffee shop called The Mill. We loved our drinks, and the service was awesome. Andrey’s vanilla latte had little vanilla bean specks in it! I absolutely adore vanilla beans! I’ve been thinking about heading over there again all week but the rain has got me in a stay home in my pajamas kind of mood. :)

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Before driving out to dinner Andrey suggested that I look up fun things to do in Sacramento, to see if I could find anything else we could do. I found that downtown was having a reading of the Christmas story and a lights show, so there we went. There were a ton of people, so parking was a little difficult, but I’m glad we went. There were families dressed up in their Christmas pajamas. It was so cute! We never did Christmas pajamas, but I think it would be a fun tradition to start.

We finally worked up an appetite and headed over to Formolis Bistro. My salad was good, but Andrey’s whiskey burger was amazing! So much flavor packed in that thing! I had read about this restaurant in the Sac Bee a while back and had forgotten about it, so I was glad to have stumbled into it. <– Andrey and I went on a walk a few weeks ago, and this restaurant is right by Andrey’s beloved Peet’s coffee. We decided to check it out when we’d have a chance. The reason Formolis was in the paper was that their owner/workers take a 3 hours trip to a  biodynamic vegetable plot in the Napa Valley to pick organic vegetables for the restaurant! I thought that was pretty cool.

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Eventually we started to miss our little guy so we headed back to my moms. We ended the evening as we always do-with bath time, and I told Andrey that although our spontaneous date days are gone, I wouldn’t trade our new lifestyle for anything.

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Meal Planning Recap

The month of November came to such a quick end! And today is already December! I’m excited because the closer it is to me getting to visit my family again in January!😄😄😄  No more leaves on the trees here in NJ, everything is barren looking and grey. It snowed twice this month, but nothing too heavy! I can’t wait for the first BIG snow fall so we can go play in the snow & take Christmas photos!

I loved meal planning for this month especially being busy with school and all the little events and errands we had planned for Thanksgiving.  I would say I stayed right on track with the dinners 90% of the time! It was a huge time & money saver! No bad veggies wasted in the fridge. We got to eat leftovers a few times so that was nice, I got a few extra nights off! Thanksgiving went by smoothly & I loved the laid back weekend that followed.  Roman had four days off in a row so we enjoyed the family time staying indoors for the most part and just playing with Fiona!  (Put up the Christmas tree & everything)! It felt so festive and it got me so excited for the holidays!

New tested and tried recipes for the month of November:

1. Missy’s Lemon & Blueberry Cupcakes

2. Natasha’s Kitchen Boccone Dolce cake <– this is a pretty cake to make for Christmas! It tasted like a huge raspberry macaron! No kidding!

3. Korie's Cranberry Walnut Cookie ( i just might post this recipe, they are so good!)

3. Olviya's mother in law's Turkey recipe with tip from NK & Olgas flavor factory gravy!

4. Homemade Pelmeni

Last month’s menu:

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This morning I whipped out the December menu and printed it and posted it on the fridge!  Something I did differently this month, was leave two blank days for inspiration. Sometimes I’ll see something or try something at a party and want to make it! So that’s what I did on the later weeks of december. Left two blank days, called Inspiration days! :)) (Inspire me Ladies) :For December my goal is to make more hearty soups, try out my friend Vita’s homemade bread recipe, & try a new cake recipe(haven’t decided which one yet) and some yummy egg rolls for Christmas dinner!

Happy Cooking & Baking for the month of December!  This month in particular, I was so so thankful for bloggers out there that share their food adventures with us!  One in particular I loved that Natasha from NK posted the turkey recipe with the tip from Gordon Ramsay; the recommendation for the butter, lemon, and parsley stuffed into the skin!  Oh my, was that so tasty! I wanted to lather it on some bread and just eat it plain! So shout out to all the food bloggers out there that inspire and help us cook hearty and yummy meals!

What are some tasty recipes you tried this past month?! I just love new pinterest tags or recipe links.  I’m a sucker for recommendations!  My sister has a board up of all her tested and tried recipes and I love almost everything on there! Anytime west sista Olviya tells me about something new she tried I get hooked! 

Happy Thanksgiving!

A LIST OF GRATITUDE/

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1. I am thankful for Jesus Christ my Savior!  For the blood that was shed on my behalf and for the Father’s love and grace that he gives to me daily!  My salvation is the greatest treasure I have, a true gift.   Thank you Jesus!

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2.  I am thankful for my husband.  For his kind and giving heart.  There is no one else I’ve met that loves people wholeheartedly like he does!  For always pushing me and cultivating my character!  For shepherding our church family and never giving up!

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3.  I am thankful for my little princess Fiona and her soon to be sibling.  She is the sparkle in our lives!  It is one of the greatest gifts of God to entrust us with little blessings and it leaves me overwhelmed of his goodness.

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4. I am thankful for FAMILY near and far! For all my brothers in sisters! For my parents, grandparents and extended family!

5.  I am thankful for friendships, food, & fellowship!   My favorite memory from this Thanksgiving was at our church potluck on Wednesday when we passed a pine cone around the table and said what we were grateful for!  I loved hearing the stories and the things people had overcome!  I am thankful that God places people in my life that I can learn and glean from.  And lastly, I am thankful for you!  Thank you for reading:)

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Happy Thanksgiving and May God Bless you!

Operation Christmas Child

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our mini Christmas tree!

This wednesday for Bible Study we got busy wrapping and putting christmas presents together for Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child.  I love everything about this cause!

I loved the team effort that went into play and how excited everyone was to bring something for a complete stranger half way across the world.  I actually got inspired by a friend on Instagram to do this with our cell group! So thanks Tanya! :) We went to Target and loaded a cart full of fun toys ranging from age 2-14!

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It was awesome to see such a great turnout with everyone that came out to help! The christmas music, yummy donuts, and fellowship in between were the perfect touches to an evening of giving back!

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I absolutely love wrapping gifts and seeing others get involved was the coolest part of it all!  We wrote individual letters to the children to make it more personal & I loved reading a few of them before they went in the boxes! It feels like Christmas is around the corner! Ahhhhh how I love Christmas time! Can’t wait for the JOY of it all!!!! A big thank you for everyone that helped wrap and helped participate this wednesday!

Operation Christmas child

Awesome video:) http://video.samaritanspurse.org/beyond-the-box-the-history-of-operation-christmas-child-2/#ooid=E1d3J0Zjrqa2ZVONMerGhlgfTn3qJwR0

Grace Upon Grace

Whenever I hear the word grace, I think of Jesus and the incredible grace that he shows me daily. However, I was recently able to experience grace poured out on me from others, and it sure felt good. Let me back track a bit. — I have unique relationship with my conscience. Most of the time I love how crazy strong it is, but when I do something wrong it sure makes it difficult for me to forget. I’m usually pretty quick to come to the Lord with my sins to ask for forgiveness-it takes me longer to forgive myself. However, when others are involved I oftentimes make up excuses as to why I don’t have to confess my sin to them if the Lord already forgave me. I try to justify my sin, or even get someone else to justify it as being ‘no big deal’…but the Holy Spirit ever so gently keeps putting it on my heart, or revealing scriptures to me that remind me to come clean.

My memory hasn’t been the best lately, but I’ve been having a lot of time to think and remember Oftentimes it’s the things that I can’t seem to remember during the day;). The Lord recently reminded me of a few past sins I needed to come clean to others about, and it took me a good week or so to finally do it but once I did it felt so good-so freeing! The people that I confessed to were so quick to show forgive and show me grace. I was so relieved and thankful. They reminded me of my duty as a Christian to not only receive grace from the Lord, but to extend it also. I hope that I can encourage you to do the same.

-Olviya

Storytime

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Fiona has grown very fond of her books lately!  She loves repeating words like “BOOK” , “BALL”, “APPLE” and “ABC” that she has learned along the way.  Her little bookshelf that has all her books I clean like 10X a day!  These are some of her favorites.:

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Goodnight Moon! (my mom gave her this one)

Poems and Riddles (a book in Russian) that I found at EB Library Book Sale.

The very Hungry Caterpillar

Toe’s, Ear’s, and Nose

The Little Engine that Could

Babies! (my friend Theresa gave her this one.  It used to be her’s when she was a baby)

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She loves playing peak a boo with her books and sometimes pretends reading out loud with her baby talk!  It is hilarious watching her when her book is upside down and she can’t tell the difference.

Library time

Today we went to our library for there weekly storytime!  I’ve made it into a habit to try to go once a week for their toddler activities. Today was hosted by the Mom’s of East Brunswick so I joined the club!  I know with winter approaching I want to stay involved and active with Fiona.  She has way too much energy to stay at home all day & loves interacting with other kids.

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When she is playing by herself she likes her v-tech and fisher price learning books  because they sing and read to her.

Papa reading

Her absolute favorite storytime is with Papa!   I love when Roman reads to her because she gets so excited to hear his version!  It’s way more exciting than mama’s version;)  She learns new words with him and the next day when I’m reading she will say something new and surprise me!
I really want her to grow up loving reading so we try making it fun!  I can’t wait for all the stories and books to come as she grows up and starts understanding more.

What are some of your favorite board books/reading material for toddlers?   

Clothed in gentleness

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Salutations my dears!  Today I’ll share my morning devotion with you!  It is not every morning that I wake up before Fiona but on days that I do manage to, I cherish the mornings so much!  I feel so renewed and refreshed.

//What does the Bible have to say about gentleness?//

Let believers clothe themselves “with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” ( Col 3:12 ).

Jesus came on Earth  “gentle and humble in heart” ( Matt 11:29 )

A witness to Christian truth is the more effective for being made “with gentleness and respect, ” especially toward a hostile or an unbelieving listener ( 2 Tim 2:25 ; 1 Peter 3:15 ).

Wives should seek “the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit” ( 1 Peter 3:4 ).

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love, ” exhorts Paul ( Eph 4:2 ).

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” ( Gal 5:22-23 ),

But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us. (1 Thessalonians 2:7-8)  

Gentleness is suggested by the waters of a stream ( Isa 8:6 ) in Old Testament

Pretty much all these scripture convicted me to the core.  I am far from being gentle in many occasions.  Sometimes I am pretty headstrong or rough around the edges.  I wanted to remember this devotion because I want to allow God to teach me His overflowing grace more and more each day.  To teach me to put on the spirit of gentleness.  In the last one Paul uses such a strong comparison. (something I relate to).   A nursing mother cherishes and loves her child with gentleness and so Paul exhorts us to be with those in our lives.  Our daily life, be it with our husband, children or a complete stranger is supposed to shine light and impart the gospel.

Take home message: i want to love gently.

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Anatoly Ivanov-1 Month Old

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*onesie designed by my friends/little sister at my baby shower. I have one for each month:)

My little boy turned 1 month old today! He is getting more cute, and fun by the day. This month was long, but it passed by quickly..does that make any sense? I’m so thankful that I get to stay home with our little monkey for 3 months before going back to work. I feel like we’ve adapted pretty well-that’s not to say that we don’t have hard days, but overall I feel like Toly is slowly starting to develop a little bit of a schedule with his eating/sleeping/poo-ing. ;)

When we first brought him home, the littlest things took us forever to do. He wore ‘pajamas’ all day/everyday, because I hated putting onesies and pants on him. I felt like he was so tiny in the beginning that I didn’t really know how to put clothes on over his head without cutting off his breathing. Also, he doesn’t like to be changed, so a cry sesh always happens when the diaper comes off. However, I’ve started putting him in regular clothes because a)they’re so darn cute, and b)it’s not as hard as I thought. That’s what I feel like happens a lot in parenting…you think that something is going to be super difficult to do (and sometimes things are), but eventually you learn, and then you can look back and laugh at yourself.

Toly loves: to be held (which baby doesn’t?), bath time (he actually fell asleep while we gave him a bath), riding in the car (he notices when the car stops and gets fussy until we start moving again), listening to music (Andrey likes to crank up Russian hymns for him to listen to in the mornings), eating (he almost always smiles after a good meal), and spending time with mama/papa (at least that’s what we tell ourselves).

Toly dislikes: Being changed-diaper and clothes, his cradle (he sleeps in a rock & play), and his pacifier is a hit/miss.

Overall, I feel so blessed to be Toly’s mama! He brings so much joy to our family. He’s finally starting to smile/laugh, and we both get so excited every time he crinkles his darling almond shaped eyes. We are looking forward to sharing the Holidays (and the rest of our lives) with him. <3

I made a little video to share with those inclined:) I had the hardest time choosing photos/videos for it– the diminishing storage space on my phone/camera can attest to that! Baby pictures are the best! ;)

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-Olviya