Thursday, January 24, 2013

Personal Blog - Russian Blog Has Gone Private

Just a note for my readers. If you're looking for information on Russian adoptions it's on my other blog and it's been secured. If you'd like access please leave a comment with your email address and I'll add you to the list. This blog is my personal blog with information on Russian language software for adults and kids, Russian recipes, Russian dolls and other neat things that interest me. (Including all sorts of interesting stuff from Hawaii where I currently live).

Comments on this blog are now moderated and I won't publish any comment that use profanity, or any comments with personal information like an email address.

FYI - I have an extra set of Little Pim Chinese language learning software (3 DVD Set). I won't be using it so if anyone's interested let me know and I'll ship it off to you. I'm also toying with the idea of doing a giveaway to benefit a Marine Corps Wounded Warriors Group. I just have to do the research on how to do it. I'd prefer not to be handling any of the money and have it donated directly do the group itself (or any wounded warrior group since there are groups in each state). What I may do is having people donate directly and then have that group confirm the donation by that person with the persons email address (but only with that persons permission) and they would then be entered in the giveaway.

I'm going to be doing more giveaways in the future to benefit the Wounded Warriors. Things including a Hawaiian Dress, gift certificates and more!! So check back shortly for more information. I just have to figure out how to do it. I may just put a link to the group so that you can click on the link and donate and then email me the confirmation email when you receive it showing that you donated. Once I figure out how to do it so that the money goes directly to the Wounded Warriors then I'll start hosting giveaways.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Russian Ballerina Dolls and Sock Dolls

So I have an absolute FAVORITE shop on Etsy!!!! She's an amazing woman from Russia!!! And every time I've asked her about something I've seen and could she make it, and just make a Russian version of it, she comes up with something amazing!!!! So I'm going to post some links and pictures to the ones she has posted that I absolutely love.

She has the new Russian Ballerina Dolls posted for sale finally!!!! And if you ask her for a specific color or design her answer is typically always yes!!! And she gets them done SO quickly!!!! I love the high qualify, the uniqueness and the Russian design!!! This isn't your typical American store bought doll!!! I just can't do that for my girls anymore!!! No more store bought dolls, we haven't done that for them EVER and I'm not about to start now!!! I want better for my girls and they're inexpensive as well!!!

So here's the first one. It's a Sock doll that's about seven and a half inches tall!!! She has them in a lot of colors!!! This light aquamarine one is one of my favorites as is the purple one she makes as the pink and white one. At about $12 each including free shipping, it's a real bargain!!! And absolutely adorable as well!!

I'll post each photo with the link below it!!!

While you're checking out her store, check out the adorable monkeys, kittens, and the adorable yellow puppy dog!!!!

My next favorite is this Blue Russian Ballerina dressed as the Snow Princess (Snegurochka)!!

(I'm getting two of these - matching ones for the girls for their Birthday)!!!

Here's another Russian Princess in Pink!!! (Also getting this one eventually)

I think this is absolutely perfect for Valentine's Day, and what little girl wouldn't want her very own Russian Princess in Pink to hang above her bed!!!

Now, every little girls dreams of being a Ballerina don't they? So this is one I specifically requested for a couple friends as well as for my girls!!! She did it in pink and in green and I'll post pictures of both!!!

The green one also hangs from a round decorated hanger, it just isn't shown in the picture!!! You can request multiple different colors, whatever your daughter, niece, granddaughter's favorite color is and she'll go find the right colored materials in the local store and make one just for your little Ballerina!!

And here is another picture of the sock dolls!!! The white one with purple decorations is my favorite by far!!! You can either purchase the doll itself on her other Etsy site, or you can order the PDF video demonstration and learn how to make them yourself!!!

They're just SO adorable aren't they!!!! 

I just had to share these!!! They are some of my favorites!!! I'm also going to ask her if she knows of anyone who makes Matryoshka's and if they'd be willing to list them at a decent price on Etsy!! I know so many of them are so expensive!!! I'd love to find an inexpensive outlet where we can get actual Russian Matryoshka's!!!!

With all of the Russian dolls that she makes, she includes free shipping and it actually comes very quickly!!! I'd order at least a couple weeks before you'll need it just to make sure it arrives in time for Birthday etc!!!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Classes with Dolphins

One of the biggest activities I was looking forward to when we moved to Hawaii was interacting with dolphins!!! Oh my gosh, hands down one of the best experiences of my life!!!! The kids rotated through 4 - 5 on land classes (meaning not down by the lagoon where the dolphins were). They learned about mammals and reptiles, stingrays, whales, dolphins, fish, sea turtles and more!!! They learned about sea turtle eggs and were able to observe 2 sea turtles as well as observing 2 sting rays being fed!!! Then we moved down to the lagoon and the kids were able to feed the dolphins, interact with them and learn more about this amazing animals!!!! Of course my kids are braver than I am. SO glad it was my kids handling the fresh squid for the dolphins and not me. I'm okay with fresh fish, but I draw the line at squid. I love the things as long as they are in the ocean and VERY far away from me. Squeamish any?!?!

Here are a few photos from our day today. None of the kids (to protect their privacy) but a few of the dolphins that we worked with!!!

Enjoy the photos!!!! Now that we've done the classes I can't wait to go swimming with dolphins when hubby gets back from deployment!!!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Post Placement #3!!!!

It's that time of year again!!!! Time for Post Placement Report #3!!!! We've been so busy that time just seemed to slip away!!!! I can't believe she's been home for almost 2 years now!!!! So we've found a great social worker here on the island (well, not quite.....they're on another island, but they'll fly here and it's still part of Hawaii). A bit more expensive, but well worth it as they're supposedly the best and work with lots of military families.

We've also hit other major milestones this month. We've officially finished our first month of the deployment. 1 months down, many more to go. Miss K has also finally outgrown her 4T clothing (YAY!!!) and is officially in 5T and is also going up a shoe size (11.5's) (kind of, more like a half shoe size, but hey.....that's what half sizes are for). Miss A has gone from 5T up to size 6/6x and has also gone up a shoe size as well (12) as a leotard size in ballet (6/7's), and needed the next size up of ballet slippers as well. Mr. M is very quickly outgrowing his 2T clothing and will be in 3T shortly (already wears a lot of 3T's but a few 2T's also). At the rate he's going he'll be out of his 2T's by the end of February. He's also gone up a shoe size from size 6 Toddler to size 7's. (At the rate he's going I picked up 8's as well).

In Mommy news, I'm officially back to healthy eating now that my husband is deployed (yes, he has a thing for some unhealthy food). Thankfully he's had a wake up call while deployed and has started cutting out a lot of the unhealthy foods he was eating (and drinking including sodas). Mommy is now completely off caffeine other than a hot cup of tea once in a while (very low caffeine) and I'm no longer doing any processed foods for the most part. Lots of fruits and vegetables, whole wheat everything, AND I've joined a Ballet/Workout Class. It's WONDERFUL!!!! After the 1st night I came home and my pants that I had worn just a few days earlier that were comfortable and fit perfectly are now loose and falling off and have an extra 2 inches in the waist!!!! Now I just have to work to get back down to the pants that I fit 2 - 3 months ago, and I'll be happy!!! I'm also using a Fluidity Barre at home and Fluidity workouts twice a week plus practicing the ballet workouts that I've learned. We do a TON of sweating as the building we're in is close to the ocean, mostly open air, and non air conditioned. It's perfect. We work like crazy for an hour working out, sweating, learning new routines etc. I love it, though I'm playing catch up and having to learn from scratch what most of these women have been doing since they were kids. But it's totally worth it.

I'm loving the healthy eating. I'm experimenting with a lot of recipes including curry, saffron and some Morrocan seasonings as well!!! I'll post the recipes that I like once I've had a chance to test them. I'm also learning to cook more Russian food as all 3 of my kids love anything Russian including the food!!!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Russian Ballerina's

So I sent a request to someone in Russia asking if she could make something for my daughter's for their birthday!!! She got back to me the other day with some samples of what she came up with!!!! They were A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!!!!!!!! So I decided to share. As soon as she has them posted online I will share the link so you can order if you wish!!! She does accept requests for designs, colors etc. I will also be asking her to do something similar but in a Snegurochka design (Snow Princess design)!!!! Here are some photos of what she came up with. And FYI - the arms and legs are movable so you can place the ballerina in any ballet position!!!

 Here are both ballerina's done in green and pink!!! They can be hung up via the hanger pictured!!!

Here is a shot from a different view!! As you can see the legs and arms are adjustable!!!

Here is the green one!!! And check out the buns in their hair!!! Talk about perfection!!!

And here is the green one from a different angle!!

And here is one of the hangers!!!

Look for a Blue Snegurochka (Snow Princess) design to come soon!!! As soon as she has this posted online I will post the link. I would order sooner rather than later because there are a number of us who are going to be ordering these so you'll want to order them sooner rather than later. Especially if you want them for a child who has a birthday coming up!!!

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Best Thing About Getting Lost in Hawaii

I've learned a lot about Hawaii since arriving here. So here are just a few of the things I've learned.

1. On an island of limited dimensions, when you get horribly lost (the way I did today) there's only so far you can drive in one direction before getting to the end. This is a plus. Why? Because invariably I will get to the end of find either the H1, the H2 or the H3 (the 3 main highways on the island).

2. Getting lost is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.!!!!! Yes, it IS amazing and totally fun, because you find all sorts of little places that you never knew existed. Take today for example. I found a fairly decent sized grocery store that caters specifically to people from India!!! What a gold mine!!! I LOVE Indian food!!!! My husband not so much. Which means I'll be going to the India Grocery Store before he comes back from deployment and will be making lots of dishes with curry in them and other spices!! I might even get one of the India costumes for each of the girls!! I think they'd love it!!! I also found the most amazing fresh seafood market. Like, "almost right on the water, fresh from the trawler, can't get any fresher than this" type seafood market!!! A big cavernous open air (but covered over) seafood market!!! So now I know where to get my fresh fish!!!

3. I totally get why "tourists" annoy Hawaiians. They now annoy me to. Lesson learned, stay as far away from the tourist district as possible. They have a tendency to be drunk in the middle of the day and have no problem diving in front of vehicles mid day when they are A) not at a cross walk and B) traffic is driving past. And yes, I keep an eye out and tend to start slowing down a LONG way off for tourists and make sure I stop pretty far away from them. The windmill arms, cussing and yelling is a good clue that you don't want to get anywhere near them. The whole "I'm rich and bringing my money to Hawaii to spend so you should treat me like royalty" gets old pretty quick. Thankfully, I'm not a tourist, and the fact that I'm respectful of their culture and way of life means I get treated pretty well and get along with them. I may not be Hawaiian, but I'm a semi-permanent resident, I take my dogs to the vet, my kids to the Pediatrician and everything else that they do. I may not be native Hawaiian, but I'm most definitely not a tourist. FYI - if you're coming to Hawaii? Do yourself a favor. Be polite. Don't get drunk mid day, don't do anything stupid and even if you are rich and well off and want to be treated like polite. It's not going to kill you to say please and thank you. And do ME a favor? If you see kids around? Please do your best not to use foul language. I don't care what language you use in front of your own kids, but I have a right to raise my kids MY way and that means I don't want my kids learning that kind of language. And yes, I WILL ask you not to use that language in front of my children and explain to my children (in front of you) that the kind of language you used is bad, and unacceptable to use in public. Even if that means making you look like a bad guy. That's your problem. If you want to use it, keep it in adult company.

I'm off my soapbox now.

4. They DO have a monsoon season. For those of you who thought that was just in Asia, Africa and Australia? Nope, Hawaii has one to. That means for weeks at a time (since almost everyone has solar panels on their roof to use sunlight for electricity) you will go without hot water. And I'm not talking you might have just warm water. I'm talking cold showers for weeks at a time. If you're lucky the 3 hours in the early morning (before the sun comes up) and the 3 hours in the evening (after the sun goes down) when your actual electric kicks in to heat your hot water, will heat your water from cold to tepid or semi warm. What does this mean? It means whatever you do, don't do laundry on hot/warm (you'll use up what little tepid/warm water you have). First thing in the morning when you have tepid water, stick your kids in the bath or shower (together). You don't have enough tepid water for 2 - 3 baths/showers. At night when the electric has had a couple hours to warm the tank, take a "quick" shower (the tepid/warm water doesn't last long). Turn your dishwasher on (since you can't select a temperature) at night AFTER you've showered. That way you've already used up the tepid/warm water and there's only cold water left. You don't want it draining what little warm water you may have. And when you get that one clear day after about 2 weeks of rain? Use it to your advantage. Take a nice hot shower half way through the day (it'll take that long for the hot water heater to actually catch up now that you have sunlight). Do laundry that you actually need hot water for, and do a "cleaning" cycle on the dishwasher since you have hot water. If you're lucky you'll get about 1 sunny day in between 2 weeks of rain (on average), but no guarantees. You could go up to a month without seeing the sun.

5. I will NEVER complain about missing the sound of rain on my room again during the hot/sunny season during the spring/summer/fall. I'm going to remember that I'm going to get PLENTY of rain from December through March. I'm going to enjoy the sunlight and the warm weather and the fact that I have free electric from my solar panels that will heat my hot water heater much hotter than I ever need. And the fact that I can do hot laundry without worrying about running out of hot water.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Phonics and Handwriting for Home School

After reviewing a number of different phonics options to help our kids with learning to read I found one that I absolutely LOVE!!! The girls love it also and it caters to all different types of learning abilities. Whether you child learns better by doing hands on, by watching a video or verbal, by writing or written instruction, regardless of how they learn this system works for all of those. This year we've been using a curriculum called "Hooked on Phonics." The set included 2 workbooks (1 and 2), 2 pages of large star stickers, individual reader books and 2 DVD's. We've been trying it since this past summer and both girls absolutely love it!!! They picked up reading so quickly and both girls have completely different learning styles. Miss K has a longer attention span but it takes her long to learn a new concept. Miss A has a shorter attention span but picks up new concepts much faster. Miss K does better with writing, Miss A does better with reading. Both girls do well in math and with foreign languages. Miss K has a better attention span in her piano and music classes and picks up the concepts faster than Miss A, but Miss A loves her piano and voice classes more. They both love Ballet but Miss K has the better attention span and so she's leveling up faster to a more challenging ballet class.

So I was looking at the Hooked on Phonics website to pick out what I wanted to use for the girls next year so I would know how much the curriculum would cost. And guess what?!?! They have it on sale. The sets are at a minimum $20 off sometimes more (for the full 1 year set). In my case since I have 2 students I'll order a second set of workbooks. And even just the workbooks themselves are discounted right now. I'm not sure how long it will last, but I figured I'd share in case anyone else wanted to order them. These are also perfect for adopted children, children with special needs, learning delays, or even children who are younger but ahead of other children/students their own age. The Pre-K set can work for students 3 - 5 years old, and if your student advances faster than that go ahead and move on the Kindergarten set for 5 - 6 yr olds. There's no set age, just a recommendation. Some children will pick up the concepts faster or earlier (at a younger age). But my kids love this set so I figured I'd share.

Hooked on Phonics Kindergarten

Now, you have to figure out which set will work best for you. They have individual sets, or you can purchase it one workbook at a time (each workbook comes with addition small readers and a DVD). A full one year set is available with 2 workbooks, 2 DVD's and the individual readers and stickers. Or you can even purchase a 3 year set of Kindergarten through 2nd Grade.

It all depends on what you feel you'll need. I wish last year I had ordered the 3 year set since we'll definitely be using it. However, I only purchased the Kindergarten set. I'll be picking up the 1st and 2nd grade sets together as a set and I'll save even more money buying them together as well as the discounts they're currently running. You can also purchase individual workbooks, readers and DVD's if you misplace one (the way I did) and need to replace an individual item.

In addition to Hooked on Phonics we've paired it with the full Handwriting Without Tears Set. We have the original set of 5 workbooks, plus the mats, foam hands, the 3 CD's (music), and the wooden sets to make the letters. However, they do have brand new workbooks that just came out recently that are great as well!! Most of them are the same, the ones that do an intro to cursive at the end of 1st grade look really good and can be done over the summer between 1st and 2nd grade. I'll be pickup up the Kick Start Cursive Book. They also have a 2nd Cursive book that they've added to the original cursive book.

Here's what you NEED vs WANT:


Wooden Pieces


Foam Hands
Teacher's Guide

I found that I didn't need the teachers guide as we started the Handwriting Without Tears program with our adopted daughter's Occupational Therapist. After 9 months of OT working with the HWT program I knew what to do for at least the first two books. With the Cursive Books I'll be switching the Teacher's Guide from the WANT list to the NEED list. But if you're looking to save money and you're comfortable doing it on your own you don't need it in the beginning. There is plenty of information online about it that you can pretty much figure it out on your own. I'm linking directly to the websites for both programs and not to books on sale with Amazon. This way you're going directly to the source. However, it's worthwhile to check out Amazon and see if you can get the full set a bit cheaper. Just remember to calculate shipping with Amazon into the prices. Most of these direct websites will send it to you for free and include shipping in their costs for the books and other items.

Handwriting Without Tears Program

NOTE: If you can find older editions online on Amazon or other websites they'll still work just fine and might save you some money.


If you came to this blog looking for information on the Russian Adoption Ban, I've switched that blog to a different website address.

Go to:

Lock Down On Base

So we're back on lock down this morning!!! I'm just thankful that we didn't have anything big scheduled for today. I have no clue how they're getting kids to and from the schools. Thankfully we can do some catch up work at home and the kids off base classes don't start until next Tuesday!!!

Yes, President Obama is back!!! Now that the bill has passed, he's returned to finish his vacation with his family!!! I kind of feel bad, he left and it had been gorgeous golfing weather and he returns to overcast grey skies and rain. I guess that explains why he isn't golfing and is working out at the gym instead!!

My house is an absolute disaster so I guess lock down is a perfect excuse to stay inside and clean and do lots of rainy day activities with the kids!!! I took the Christmas Tree down last night. The Christmas Tree people are supposed to come around today and pick them up. Of course, my husband had the bright idea of sticking pieces of wood into the stand as supports for the tree. It worked beautifully, only down side? Now the tree and the wood won't come out of the stand. So it's out by the road stand and all and I'm hoping they pick it up. If they don't I guess I'll be tracking someone down to help me get it out of the stand and taking it off base to one of the official tree dump sites. Oh well. Of course the wood hubby chose swelled up due to the water in the stand and is completely stuck. Yesterday was a horrible day. Oh well. Hopefully today will be better. I'm not enjoying this wet weather. I think honestly I'd prefer the snow (as much as I hate driving in it). Supposedly it's just this side of the island where it rains constantly all winter long. I can't wait for spring to get here!! I'm totally over this whole "warm, rainy, overcast winter." I appreciate the warmer weather, but not the rain. Rain is just dreary. At least snow is pretty (for the most party) even if it is colder.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Russian Dolls And Where To Get Them

So I have a new favorite store on Etsy. It's by a woman in Russia and her husband!! She's absolutely wonderful!!! Backstory: A friend sent me the link to her store, she was thinking of ordering a Snow Princess doll from this woman!! Had made, hand knitted, and absolutely adorable!!! As soon as I saw it I knew my daughters were absolutely love it, but there was only one and my friend was ordering it!! So I emailed the seller asking if she could make two more matching Snow Princess dolls!! She responded that evening and told me she would love to make two more dolls and they'd be ready within a week. Within three days they were ready (much earlier than anticipated) and I happily purchased them!!! Included in the package were 2 small Russian books including one that told the story of the Snow Princess and Ded Moroz, 2 small hand knitted snow men to go with the dolls that could be hung on the Christmas Tree and a hand knitted Ded Moroz as well (5 dolls and 2 books when I paid for 2 dolls)!!! Talk about a wonderful Christmas!!! Shipping was included absolutely free and I'm sure she figures that into the cost of the dolls!!! The dolls arrived within two weeks and I had a tracking number from her and could track them from Russia to the US.

So I'm including a link to her Etsy store as well as pictures of the Snow Princess Doll that I purchased for my two girls as well as another Gyspy Doll that caught my eye. She has SO many neat things that are available that she can make (if you need more than one for twins or triplets just ask, I'm sure she'll be more than happy to make them for you). But the REALLY wonderful thing is, if you want to learn how to make some of the things in her store, for a few dollars she will email you the video and a power point along with English language directions on how to make some of the dolls, angels, sock dolls and more that are listed on her site!!! And if you have any questions she'll email you right back to help you out!!! She's a wonderful woman and I've enjoyed ordering from her!!! She has also gone out of her way to pick up the Russian books for my girls and to help out our adopted daughter with books in Russian that she can take to her Russian class!!

This is the picture of the Snow Princess Doll that I've linked to above. 

And this is the Gypsy Doll that I'm going to be getting for the girls for their Birthdays this spring!!! 
It's hand sewn out of cloth, so not knitted!!! How neat!!! 

The items I link to and show on my blog I've either ordered or have experience with the person I'm ordering from. I won't order anything that I haven't personally tried and absolutely LOVE!!!

Check out her Etsy Store, there are SO many neat and nifty things that she has listed, all of them from Russia. She sent ours in really nice draw string red Russian bags (gorgeous, the girls love them)!! You won't find ANYTHING like this in the US and it's MUCH better quality to!!! And it's made with love from a Russian woman who loves kids, especially adopted children from Russia!!! Enjoy!!!

One last link to a sock doll pattern that she has on her Etsy Site!!! I can't wait to make these!!! These are made out of cute little toddler socks with little designs on them!!!

This one specifically was my favorite (I have a thing for everything purple)!! 
However, she has 3 or 4 other designs and colors on there and she'll send you the PDF and Powerpoint plus video with English Language Directions on how to make these. Also if you ask her I'm sure she'd be willing to make them for you and list them specifically for you if you want them to be made out of cute Russian socks (admittedly I haven't seen a ton of soft cute socks that would make something like this in the US). Or you could always ask her to send you all the materials you would need in a package with the directions!!

Two Blogs

I know, crazy right? So all of a sudden there are no blog posts, no information.....I're probably confused!!! Don't worry, the blog posts didn't go away. I just separated my two lives. I now have two separate blogs. This one is going to be specifically for family posts, Marine Corps posts and anything having to do with our lives. It will also include all of my school information for the kids (foreign languages, dance, art, anything homeschool related etc). Printables for kids, school charts, curriculum that I like. It will also have pictures of our interactions with dolphins, sea turtles, whales etc and all the cool stuff from Hawaii!!! It's going to be awesome!!! It's also going to be completely and totally drama free!!!

Here's the link to the other blog: New Blog

The other one (it's on my profile) will be specific to anything Russian:

1--Russian Adoption (A hot topic right now)
2--Russian Food (recipes will go on both blogs)
3--Russian Toys (got some awesome toys and dolls from Russia for the kids with FREE shipping and only       took 2 weeks to get here).
4--Russian Dolls (the kind that talk in Russian, and now they have them where they talk in Russian AND English)
5--Russian Language Learning Software (for kids AND adults) (I prefer Little Pim or Dino Lingo for kids, and Transparent Language for Adults). (HOWEVER, both of the kids programs are for young kids, as they get older I'll be switching to something else appropriate).
6--Russian Books

And more!!!!!

So don't worry, if you're looking for information on Russian adoptions it still exists, just on the other blog.

And this one is going private in oh (about 1 week). I'm taking it private and anyone interested in our lives, the heartache of separations due to deployments, how our kids are doing, photos of our kids etc, comment on here with your email address (don't worry, I won't publish it) and I'll add you to the reader list.

I'll be posting a bunch of neat recipes that I found out about during our local New Years Party for Children (complete with Ded Moroz, Snegurochka and more). I have a TON of pictures from the party, pictures of the kids (that I haven't been posting for privacy reasons), pictures from our visit with the Senior Consul from the local Russian Consulate in San Francisco (he comes to each state to help local Russian American families with anything they might need to do with the Russian Consulate (passports, registration, paperwork to be notarized etc). It was nice!!!

I've gotten involved in the local Russian community and I'm going to try to video tape some of our cooking class (informal, a friend is going to teach me). This way I can post the recipes and the instructions along with a video in English that's authentic!!!

I'm also going to post some really neat links that I've found!!!! I have some great people that I've found in Russia who helped me plan for Christmas and New  Years and the things I found were GREAT!!!! And the shipping was free and only took about 2 weeks!!!!

More later!!! I'm off to Facebook chat with my husband who is deployed!!