February 24, 2010

Two kinds of mothers

I've been brainstorming about mothers for the last 10 years. I grew up in one type of parenting scheme, my husband - completely the opposite. Having experienced and observed both , here is something to think about: interesting and curious.

When we lived in UT, if a woman is not married around 21-23 , there is a lot of pressure to do so. And even more so, once the girl is married , is the pressure to have children. Mothers are typically fall somewhere between 22-25 years old for the firstborn, and by 29-30 they are experts at juggling 3+ kids in between the endless laundry, school, shopping, UT church and everything that comes with it - meetings ,etc, etc. Education is promoted, but... I know very few women , that actually DO something with their education. I am very happy to say, that all my friends are exceptionally talented, and are not only amazing mothers, but are fantastic professionals. However... that is more of the exception. Many others go to school... to get married. It is in the lines ofthe mentality of " doing something until the "right guy" comes along and then be a mother". Don't get me wrong - my view is such: Motherhood is an amazing and wonderful thing. Every women must experience it to be complete. And motherhood - when understood and fulfilled - is a job , no, scratch that, it is A LIFE of itself. What I saw in UT, however, was nowhere close. Whether the pressure to comply with the society and tradition, or the age of itself, but many young mothers , while abundantly blessed with children, see it as a "of course. how else would it be" kind of thing. And ...really do not do anything to raise the children. Yes, kids get older, but... there is more to parenting then just feeding, laundry-ing and homework. The mentality "well, everyone survived" is overwhelming. Not all, but in general, there is a massive lack of simple motherly love and CARE. Kids seem to be added to the family , just because they are "supposed to be", or "ready for another one". Result? Worn out mother with a scrunchy, no ( or run-down ) make up, sweats or whatever-was-first-in-the-closet fashion, and ever-so-tired face expression. Yes , motherhood is tiring. There are no magic tricks or shortcuts ( unless you have an extra bank account just for nanny), and there are days when things can get crazy. BUT. When one is ready for the child, it is different. Yes, work and effort, but you WANT to do it. Just the same as you are happy to pick up the socks that the hubby throws all over the place, the same way you are happy to change a stinky diaper, because you LOVE those who you live with and you live FOR THEM because you WANT them in you life.
There is a difference of having a child be a center of one's life because it is desperately WANTED , vs the fact that... one does not know what else to do with life except for cooking both :food and children. It makes me wonder - how much and WHAT can be given to a child in such environment? The exceptions of love , care and unconditional parenting a few and rare.
Is it the age? The environment and social ( and religious) pressure? Both?

On the other hand, here in NYC, and in Europe, where I grew up, I see the opposite. Mothers not even thinking about the first child until 30, with very typical first-born ( if not the only born) at around 36. To that , there needs to be added , that at 38 women here look better then 25 "standard utah age". Motherhood approach differs significantly. There is a completely different outlook on parenthood. While many women had very successful careers before the baby, many devote themselves to one's( many times one and only) child. The interesting observation that came up from talking to other mothers is the fact that ... the reason for many stopping on , let's just say , two children, is not the age, or the finances ( as many are exceptionally stable - which one cannot say about "typical" starting family) , but the reason is this : "have no more energy to play, to run, to teach..." . I see mothers AND fathers running on the playground with the child/children, playing tag, hide-n-seek, etc all over the place. Children are surrounded by love and attention, and definitely know that they are loved and wanted.

In thinking about both types of parenting... my personal preference is a mix. It definitely is easier to recover from the pregnancy with younger body, even simply from physiological point of view. But there must be understanding of responsibility one takes upon him/herself by bringing even one child here, which comes from maturity. On top of everything that children need to learn to be successful in life ( that can only come from a parent who is prepared and willing to do whatever it takes to teach a child) , they most and foremost , need LOVE. The kind that only is possible to give if one is READY to love. Unconditionally and completely. Through tantrums and kisses. Through happy laughs and upset tears. Through cooing and teething. Simply "just because". It is a kind of love that does not require something to love for. You just DO. When "ready" - neither age nor experience matter. And at the same time, when family is created because of "tradition", "supposed to", or social ( and/or family) environment and pressure, there seems to be a need for a "reason" for loving a child. Or better yet - for KEEPING one around. My view : giving birth to 10 kids but living in such mentality does not make one be a good parent no matter what age the parents are. Children are responsibility. From the day they are born, til the day you die. They change your life the way you never thought was possible to live, adding the whole new understanding to happiness. If you decide to have one - give your child more then you have ever thought was possible. This is the only way to repay God for the most miraculous blessing and joy He gifts us: a loving family. And a four toothed bite is really the best body art ever created.

What would YOU rather be? A young parent and learn by mistakes? Learn from experience and apply? A mix ? Or something different? I am interested to hear.

February 18, 2010

Meet Lou and Lee

wearing gorgeous Lou and Lee headband

I've met Amy a few years ago, instantly fell in love with her. Style and Beauty and Authenticity. Then Amy had a baby, and I met Ann - her twin sister who took Amy's place working. And fell in love again. Style and Gorgeousness and Authenticity. Then , Amy and Ann were helping many to find and put together a style. Now they CREATE one. Years past, but Style, Beauty and Authenticity is their trade mark.

I love their work. Not only because it is so unique and beautiful. But because when you hold Lou and Lee's creation in your hands, you can see and feel the LOVE and CARE that was put into in. And , of course, the fact that both of the women continued being true self through all the years is something that is more then admirable.

Would you agree?

New Coco

Have you seen Lou and Lee headbands? If you haven't you should. I have about 100. Once you put try them on, you'll see what I mean. This is new Coco. I am serious. Watch what happens in 5 years.

See what I mean?

February 16, 2010

To Valentines...

My darlings,
I want you all to know and remember now and later that...

... you are my Angels. I live for you. I now understand the very same words my mother told me.
... you adore Cosby show and Rudy is your "how to"
... you are best friends and I want you to keep being such
... to N&Ns: you love to feed the baby and put her to sleep. Even if the baby objects.
... you are persistent in everything you do. You live you dreams. Keep doing so always.
... you can make the gloomiest day shiny with you smiles.
... the neighbors may hate the noise, but I love to hear your laugh and see you dance. keep being self. we'll make more cookies for the neighbors later.
... be happy always as you are now. There isn't anything impossible for you. Remember that.

And I... I spent an hour every night just looking at you. when you are sleeping. marveling at how fast you are growing. I love your slobbery kisses every night and early morning. You are my world. Thank you for being you. I thank God every minute for sending you to me, my little Angels. That is who you are.

February 13, 2010

Make the way.

Alright. I have received an extensive feedback on the post below. There was a particular comment from this reader, that I wanted to post, because I cannot get it off my mind:

"Wow, ain't that the truth! It's so sad and aggravating. Recently, in my local news there was a young mother who was starving her baby b/c she thought it was getting too fat. She wanted the baby to be under the 50th percentile and didn't want the child to experience the same weight issues as she and her husband. I can't even begin to wrap my brain around that logic. The baby was taken away - I just hope he/she is able to grow up with a healty outlook and that the parents themselves get some help. A messed up world we live in. Thanks to you and your friend Tiffany for sharing powerful messages."

This comment brought chill to my heart. Not only because of the actions of that mother, not only because of the twisted thinking from the comments on the article, but because CHILDREN are getting hurt by something that someone thinks is GOOD for them. The scary thing is that it is continuing to happen, EVERY DAY. The proof is this comment, a few comments on the article from Vitamin G, and ... someone's comments on my own BABY...

For one, I had a baby that was beating every ends and odds of growing : she was in 90th percentile for hight, 75th for weight, and, having a little daughter before her, that NEVER made the charts ( even now, although she is perfectly healthy. Just turned out to be small. I do have a theory on that , and wonder how true it is... I'll post about it later, see what you think) , so having had a TINY baby before, and CONSTANTLY worrying about her growing properly , testing in EVERY possible area, I was just oozing excitement to see my little baby grow so fast and so well. And then one day someone at the beach made a comment ( when my baby was chewing down a second half of the banana ) :
"You really SHOULDN'T be giving it to her. I've been watching her for the last week ( we made it every day to the beach for a couple of weeks in august), and she is getting fatter by the day. You feed her TOO MUCH. She will be fat and ugly when she grows up, and will hate you for not caring about her."

Now, the mentality of out society that we currently live in really needs help. I am not sure where the the core of the problem lies, there are many roots to it, but the fact of us leaving it the way it is cannot be. There are extremes in every area you look : there are parents that let their kids shovel down chips , cookies and plastic dinners. There are parents that put their kids on slim fast. Those "healthy" ones that stick their kids in every physical activity there is by overbooking the child and never letting them experience the simple joy of childhood play, but load them an overbooked schedule of "developmental and necessary classes" to the point of child's exhaustion. There are those that keep their kids "vegan only" because they believe in "not hurting animals". And then the extremes of "raw food only", where children are completely undernourished. And then there are the " doctor , my baby sneezed, give a prescription!". Then there are those that "do not believe in medicine. Doctors are evil " kind. And then , and then, and then... the list can go on.

The truth is - that ALL those extremes have a good seed, but the end product is astounding. While yes, a part of the problem lies within the family, there is a far greater issue that is at the root of all. After living in this country for many years, I learned to not pay attention anymore to what shocked me at my first glance. I learned to be different, and let the "shockers" just go by my side, as many foreigners I know do. And maybe we shouldn't. There are issues that , as it appears, MUST be addressed.

Many parents know nothing about proper child developing. Many have no idea about child's nutrition needs. All the "developmental books" ... Some are good, but many are ... just like those "diet books", where authors have NO idea what they are writing about. Sadly, but here one can publish near-insanity and be a "new york best seller", for as long as there are enough fools to buy the idea ( that being said, there are plenty of wonderful resources. One just must be educated enough to see that) . Hospital "birth preparation classes" at some hospitals are based on and around simple statements : "when it hurts, get epidural, and don't push the button too much, because you won't be able to push the baby out", " don't lift anything heavier then your baby for 6 weeks if you had a c-section", and " call the doctor if you are thinking suicide" with the grand total " don't worry about anything during the pregnancy, that is why you go to the doctor".

Where is the childbirth education here?! Where is the " let us support you in YOUR PREPARATION to be a PARENT. Starting NOW that you are CARRYING A LIFE within you?!

If more parents were TAUGHT CONCEPTION PLANNING classes ( where women learn not only about their body's natural fertility , but also about the sacredness AND responsibility of the approaching task of CARRYING and BRINGING the CHILD into this world), but also a series FUTURE PARENT classes , where BOTH men and women learn about their unborn child , the needs and CARE it ALREADY requires, and then taught NEW PARENT classes , where there is support , q/a , etc from a PROFESSIONAL, not a neighbor with 10 kids or a MIL with 5 kids, because having an N number of kids MAY make one be experienced in SOME things, but by NO MEANS makes one be an expert.

The sad thing is that while there is a significant shortage, but there are some resources available currently, but only a low percentage of parents know about them, and even then... It appears that one must live... umm... a"granola" life-style to benefit from it completely. A cloth diapered baby ties to a hippy green mama in one's imagination. A mother , breast feeding a toddler, does not go well with the image of a successful professional. A wise and knowledgeable pair that is preparing for a child gives an image of future parents past 35... etc.

And the stereotypes are created by no one else but us, people. WE support the media. WE agree to craziness of the world. WE close our eyes on something, we know we shouldn't.

Stereotypes must be broken. People must be educated. And just like in election, every voice counts. You can be the one to make a difference. I challenge all - parents or not - to not be silent. To educate one self , and stand firm on your believe. For the sake of our children. They are all we've got. Love them. There is nothing happier then a child's smile. There is nothing warmer , then little arm's hugs. There is nothing sweeter then a slobbery kiss. They deserve to be happy. Let them. Make the way.

PS If you are wondering what happened to that person that commented on my baby... Let's just say that after a ...10 ( or was it 15?)minute VERY educational lecture, they were putting their beach mat FAR away from us, and it appeared that they became very interested in the magazines and news papers over other people's babies.

February 11, 2010

And all about Love?...

I think that everyone should read this article. My friend , actually, Tiffany, was featured in it, in a very sensitive and important topic.

As I read the posts Tiffany had, and then the article, but MOST importantly, the reviews, I could not help, but wonder about the sanity of the people. Do you honestly believe that putting a kid of a slim fast ( that is LOADED with who-knows-what) can possibly be healthy, not even mentioning the PSYCHOLOGICAL trauma that a developing child is experiencing? What happened to our nation? What happened to LIVING healthy ourselves and ALLOWING our children to follow? And then, most importantly of all - what happened to LOVING everyone just the way they are, particularly, when they are YOUR OWN children?!

You all know that I do not believe in love "for greater good". I believe in love today. I believe in love right now. For one simple reason: tomorrow, or even ten minutes from now , it might just be too late. Life is fragile. Unfortunately, we are too slow to understand it, until we face the reality. Love each other. Forget yourself, and give your life to those you love. Treasure your children. They are the shining starts that God lit up. Don't put their pure sparkle out with loaded by human logic reasoning. God is not logical. Love nourishes all.

Excuse me, but!

After Amy posted this on her blog ( please, watch it) , the kids have been very impressed by what they've learned. We talked about why and how animals are raised, and what they are actually intended for, and what kind of milk is good, and how the cows ( pigs, chickens) need to be treated for us to benefit from their offerings. We talked about many things. And they have learned.

As we were moving through a VERY long line at Trader Joe's, we inevitably stopped by the meat section. Since the space is small, there really is no difference ( or room) between the shoppers, those that wait in line, and the fridge itself. A shopper stretched his arm to the hamburger. A 3 year old has spoken:

"Excuse me, but! You are NOT supposed to eat that! The animals don't grow in the barn, they get sick and scared and it is bad for everybody's health! If you don't buy it, they will not kill animals, and the animals will go to the barn!"

A shopper left without a hamburger. Do I have a young politician or what?

February 10, 2010

And the baby ...

LOVES ... wasabi...

From Ukrainian mother? An American father? Kill-for-mango brother? And avocado-eating sister? Go figure... Nature does indeed have sense of humor.

February 09, 2010

Spicing up

I love living where I am because I am in and around everything I love, people of my culture ( actually BOTH : there are plenty of russians as well as ukrainians here. I speak more ukrainian here then when I was in ukraine ( minus the childhood, of course)), and they all ( almost all ) speak English, so my husband ( who is still learning, but progressing well) can understand everything that goes on around him.

When they say that you need to leave to understand and love what you have , it's true. It took me leaving, and leaving for good, to realize how much I actually love my culture. I am happy and proud ( in a good way) to teach my children everything - from the language to the tradition - of my roots. So that they can carry it on to their children. It is touching and beautiful to see how their little eyes light up when someone asks them where they are from, and both proudly announce " Ukraine!".

So, over the years I've acquired a few things to keep. I really wish I had a few kitchens , because it really is hard to decide which style is my favorite.

Here are some Russian flavors. Which would you put your spices in?

While many can be "love or hate" kind, I think the mushroom spice basket is just adorable. What do you think?

Free cheese

So, the post below was first and foremost for ME. I must have skipped the lesson while writing it ( don't you love how that happens?). I still mean the "don't go crazy" part, just want to add " STAY FIRM on your believe" to it too. Here is the story.

When me moved to NYC, I was blown away by the availability of fresh organic produce. Considering that the two towns in UT ( and us living on the border of both) had the grand total of 2 health food stores, it makes it rather wonderful to live with 5 of above mentioned around your BLOCK. The prices were less. Produce fresh. Gets any better? Really no. But I didn't quite know that. Yet.

See, very soon we realized that if we took the train , we could get to another borough of the city, and get the produce dirt cheap. Like 29 cents a lb for apples, 5 for $1 oranges, $.99 HUGE bunches of dill, parsley ( etc ) ( the size of 3 store bought ones). So, as the street markets started to change their produce ( due to weather) , and more and more I had to go to 2 or 3 markets that are spread over the manhattan to get what we wanted, I more and more was leaning to just going to another neighborhood, and buying it all at once. I sure could do that in manhattan too. But my reasoning was : WHY pay double here if I can get it REALLY cheap else where? I don't mind the trip. Reasonable, right? Well... Apparently not so.

When came to buy some fruit in brooklyn, my very first question was " is it organic". The guy didn't really speak English ( or Russian ,or any language I could recognize) very well, but he readily shook his head and nodded " YEEES, YEEES, organik! See ! All aur farmz organik! Onlee ze best!". Stuff looked good. So, I - and mind you SOOOOOO pleased with myself- paid the grand total of very little money for two HUGE bags of food, made my way back to the train.
And so it became a habit. I bough some things here and there ( there ARE plenty of amazing deals in Manhattan), but decided to simplify my life, and rather then going to all the places with good deals, just went a couple of times a week to brooklyn, for groceries. It was more then convenient all around, since all the grains, spices and everything we love was in there anyway.
A few months went by, I noticed that I didn't feel as good as I normally did, but then we did have a lot of unexpected situations, so I wrote it off to that. I noticed that my skin started to act strange, but then I am breastfeeding still, so that could be a possibility. I noticed that my side started to cramp a bit, but then I was up most of the time and night and not resting with teething and demanding little one, so that definitely can ( and does ) affect the liver. But then... the cramping got worse, and worse. And after a consultation, I found out that ... the " organic" produce I was so happily buying , turned out to be just the regular, if not more , heavily sprayed , kind. I let my guard down, due to a multitude of farmers that simply do not want to bother with all the certifications, and bought he very nice tale of a happy money-maker ( I know ...) . So, basically , for the last 3-4 months I was feeding myself with organophosphates. By the spoon. ( all those greens I was loading on). Considering that my body is used to certain types of nutrients, it was a very unexpectedly heavy load. And the best part is - what I was saving on the produce, will now go to an "essay" of things for liver rehab.

So, the moral of the story is : Don't go crazy, but KEEP YOUR STANDARDS. And remember too :
Free cheese is only in the mouse trap.

February 04, 2010

When eating healthy...

There are some things that through out the years I've noticed and learned about in regards to eating healthy, particularly fresh, living foods. If I were to summarize all in just one sentence to tell all, I'd say it like this :
People, DON'T go CRAZY.

The longer the time goes, the more I notice the extremes some 'healthy eaters' go to, ultimately making the term "healthy" be somewhat of an ironic meaning. Please, understand that there is NO one perfect way. Over the last several years I met many people. Some are the 'health world celebrities'. And watching them over the course of time is sad. Believe me , there is NOTHING that a person can tell you that is worth $600+ an hour. There is NOTHING that a "retreat" can offer , that is worth $2000 - unless it is a registered medical one ( even IF alternative, but there are STILL MDs there, and very , very good ones) . And most important - there is NO wrong way to do HEALTH food for as long as you realize what HEALTH means.

I've met some "devotee"s to the raw food world, and it is SO SAD to see many of them. One does not realize how trapped they become the moment they start seeing the world as an enemy because they eat cookies or sausages. Yes, we MUST change the current system. Raising animals to gorge on is plain wrong, not mentioning destructive to one's health ( all those antibiotics, hormones, and more important the ILLNESSES THE ANIMALS ARE NOT TREATED FOR, the fear factor ( we all know the "happy cows" commercials , right? ), etc , etc. God has given us the animals to use in time of need. Sparingly. Doing it twice a week is not sparingly. Current population, unfortunately and sadly, does not understand the value of the food or the damage it can do if used wrong. For that I believe that we all must be educated just the same way we learn to write, read, brush our teeth, etc. It delights me to see all the health foods, organic markets, or better yet - NO word "organic", but just a plain farmer's market, yet all the food you buy is CLEAN and NATURAL. THAT is the most important part. It is wonderful to see that seed growing stronger each month.

And at the same time it is sad to see the opposite. The health movement again became a commercialized break down into new , "best", "the only" diets. Sad, sad, sad. Even in the most healthy approach one cannot claim the "ONE" and only way: each body is DIFFERENT. Of course, things like eating greens, vegetables, fruit in fresh, unaltered and CLEAN state are the plain basics, and will always be there. But then again, we do not question the fact that we need to drink water.( And to make sure that it is clean). We just do, because we know we need it for the body to function. But believe me the world is NOT going to turn upside down if you eat a cookie ( gasp!) if you really want it, or a piece of cake for your birthday, or a plate of pasta, or a piece of meat. As a matter of fact... if one keeps a diet clean ( and one really , really SHOULD for the sake of self and future generations) , then tasting a badly made cookie ( or candy, or anything for that matter) , with all the additives, etc, will make you want to spit it out. You WILL taste ALL that is not supposed to be there. Which is good of itself as is.

My personal opinion : Be HEALTHY, not crazy. Being uptight about the "one and only way" is just as toxic as a red die, E251, E469, etc. I've said it time and time again, and will repeat now too: even being a "100% raw foodie" is no guarantee it is a HEALTHY eating person. IF you heard "eat all you want", "any time of day and night" , "all cookies and candies are good for you" - stop and think , if it really makes sense. Can is really be healthy by stuffing oneself until the waist bulges out? After midnight? With NUT based cookies? Can that really be normal or healthy? ( does not apply to pregnant women though! If you are - then it is. Trust your body) . Or claiming that the one and only way to keep the body young is to limit the water intake?( you'll find some supporters of that theory) . Or eating mostly "all raw" BOTTLED nutrients from "very important for proper functioning" SUPPLEMENTS because the body DOES NOT HAVE ENOUGH NUTRIENTS? Don't get me wrong. I DO believe in supplementing. After all , sometimes we get kicked out of balance. The key word is SOMETIMES. I do believe in vitamins. But I believe in freshly squeezed juice more. And then there are days when I get up a little late, a juicer just does not make the cut, so in pops the kiddie vits, because it is important to have it all. But then again, I did not take any prenatals in pregnancy : it made me sick. Green juices ( yeah, the wheat grass yucky kind), however, tasted like heaven to me and were bursting with all my body and the baby needed. Most importantly, I believe in trusting your body, and using wise and knowledgeable mind for our physical part of self. Interestingly enough, those that WERE thriving on a living food diet, were not ALWAYS 100% ( so much admired) raw. Again, There is more to health then just food. Although it is very important.

Keep your head on. Keep your smile in. And ENJOY what you do. :)

PS that is a beautiful picture of a delightfully tasting raw nut cheese. Enjoy.

February 03, 2010

What da ya fink?

So, this is what Urbandictionary.com thinks about "Olya"s.

Sweet and spirited, lovely and loving, capable and creative. Olyas often have no idea how beautiful they really are. People are inexplicably drawn to Olyas. You will recognize an Olya by her quiet smile, her generous spirit and her amazing, easy sense of style. Olyas may not make friends easily, so if you're able to call one "friend" consider yourself very lucky.
Do you see that girl taking pictures across the street? The one with the cool dreads and that amazing skirt? She's such an Olya.

What da ya fink?

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