Writing Again

After a year and a half of finding my stride as a mother of four littles, I'm finally writing again! It feels wonderful to have this creative outlet back in my life. I haven't yet finished anything new for this blog, but I'm working on something. Today I just wanted to let you know that I became a featured columnist for the Assist News Service website, and my first piece is up. You can read it here. It gives some insight into what it's like to live in Ukraine in the midst of the current uncertainties and difficulties. Please check it out, and pray for Ukraine!

Compliments from my 2-Year-Old

Becoming a mother does something to your self-esteem. I don't know how many times I've thought (or heard) some variation of the following:

"You should have seen me before I had kids. I used to be __(fill in the blank)__!"

Skinny.

Groomed.

Fashionable.

Punctual.

Calm.

Focused.

Sane.

I have heard my mother-in-law, who has nine children, fill in the blank with "intelligent." 

I most frequently fill it in with "organized." 

Of course, all mommies know that the children who enter our lives and change us forever are worth infinitely more than all the attributes and freedoms we had to relinquish with their coming. Who cares about stretch marks, bags under the eyes, perpetual fatigue, and appearing like a hopeless scatterbrain? When we're surrounded by the people we love most in the worldthe ones for whom we have poured out our lives and for whom we gladly continue to do sothese sacrifices seem small. The choice was good and right, and given the chance, we'd do it again in a heartbeat. Continue reading

Happy Valentine’s Day

Hi. Remember me? I used to write on this blog. I still plan to again, but tonight won't be the night that I begin to write in earnest. Tonight I just wanted to check in to say that I've been busy, overwhelmed, strung-out, exhausted, and, well, you get the idea. And I have a picture to prove it.

Today is Valentine's Day. And this evening I took this picture in our living room. In case you can't tell, that's a disassembled fake Christmas tree on the floor and boxes of Christmas decorations on the table in the background.

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Yes, I finally took down our tree and decorations today, on Valentine's Day. So in case you were feeling guilty for being disorganized or scatterbrained or un-punctual or anything like that, you can just look at this picture for an instant ego boost, because at least you got your tree down before mid February!

Consider it my little Valentine's Day gift to you.

You're welcome.

Sharon

P.S. And if you still have your tree up, at least you can know that you're not the only person to keep one around until winter is practically over!


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Wanting Results

Tonight I posted this status update on Facebook:

"Few things these days make me feel as productive as sewing. Maybe that's because it's one of my only activities with a concrete result that lasts for more than 20 minutes or so?"

The first comment was from a friend whose kids have grown up and left home. She said, "I hear you!!" 

I have to admit that I was taken aback, because I was hoping that by the time I reach her stage of life, the frustration and discouragement of having most of my work quickly undone by small children on a perpetual seek-and-destroy mission would be far behind me. Continue reading

Hereditary Colorblindness?

Unlike the United States, Ukraine does not have many dark-skinned people, or Asians, for that matter. It's a fairly homogenous white society, which means that anyone of non-European descent stands out and might be exposed to ridicule, or worse. However, although I'm half Japanese, I've been fortunate.

I have not  experienced any racism here. Until recently. Continue reading

Wacky Things My Kids Have Said: #6

Samuel, age 5, about our apartment mate's departure to attend classes at the medical university:

"Mommy, she's going to the universe!"


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Other wacky things my kids have said.

Image courtesy of nuttakit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Budget Lasagna Recipe

I love lasagna.

No, that sounds too trite.

I adore lasagna.

My earliest memories of this comfort food are from my grandma making it. Even though she was something of a health nut and always prepared nutritious meals, lasagna was something she did well. Her method was simple. She'd layer the pre-cooked noodles in a casserole dish with her savory meat spaghetti sauce, cottage cheese, and shredded mozzarella. Knowing her, I'm sure the cottage cheese and mozzarella were low-fat varieties, but the result was always delicious.

Once I moved overseas and set up housekeeping on my own, it wasn't long before I wanted to try my hand at making my own lasagna. But I couldn't find lasagna noodles. Or cottage cheese. Or a decent mozzarella that didn't cost an arm and a leg. So I set about experimenting and substituting. Thankfully, my husband is a good sport about such things and offered me valuable feedback. (Usually some form of, "This tastes great, Sweetie!") I discovered several delicious combinations that, while not strictly lasagna, satisfied my craving for my favorite food. I found that I could toss cooked pasta with my own savory tomato and meat sauce, curds, and a shredded hard cheese and bake it all in a casserole dish for something that had the taste (if not the texture) of lasagna. I also experimented with replacing the lasagna noodles with cooked brown rice and layering the rice and other ingredients for something that was more reminiscent of true lasagna. At the height of the summer produce bounty, I also discovered that I could use sliced zucchini and eggplant in place of lasagna noodles for a surprisingly delicious and satisfying meal.

And then the economic crisis hit Ukraine.  Continue reading

Here We Go Again

Okay, I guess that's not the title you'd expect for an announcement of this nature, but that's kind of how I'm feeling at the moment.

We're expecting another child.

I'm excited by the prospect of another baby to nurse and cuddle, another precious one to love and nurture. It's just that I'm feeling so icky and fatigued right now from the symptoms of early pregnancy that it's difficult to maintain a consistently positive outlook. In fact, a few nights ago I told my husband that after this pregnancy was over, that would be it. I didn't ever want to be pregnant again. Continue reading

Boys and Girls

One afternoon not too long ago my husband and I were on a date. All we were doing was sitting on a park bench talking, but since we didn't have the kids with us, it felt like a holiday. One nice thing about being out and about without kids is the ability to people watch, and on this day we saw something fascinating. It was a mother with three daughters about the same ages as our three sons. (That would be 5, 3, and 1, for those of you keeping score.) She parked her stroller by a bench, let her toddler out, then sat down and opened a book. Continue reading