Saturday, April 18, 2015

what made me happy today

first cup of tea
scrapbooking during the kids' afternoon nap
sun and rain outside
a parcel (7 kg of books!) from the Franks
Sensei reading to me
kids falling asleep fast and early and simultaneously
tiny fingers gently squeezing my hand
lights and stars outside the window in front of which I'm typing this*

what's making you happy today?

*the picture was supposed to represent both (lights and stars), but my camera refused capturing the stars. I only see the Polar one in the picture, although there're lots of them when I look outside the window. But you get the idea.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

what are you asking in your prayers?

S: You know I'm asking God to teach me to love.
Me: How can you learn how to love?
S: By choosing the hard path.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


Back in March I took Ali Edwards' challenge to document our 7AM and 7PM on a given day (10 March 2015). I took a few pictures and jotted down what we were doing at those times, and today came up with this page (using AM/PM Story kit).

The journaling reads:

THE STORY OF THIS MORNING: Sensei normally sets his alarm at 6 a.m., and I try to wake up around this time, too. I go to the kitchen, pour hot soup in a thermos and hot tea in two other thermoses, cut some onion and bread, pour salt into a matchbox and gather it all into a backpack that Sensei takes to work. However, today he took a day off, because we're going to Zmievka (Alice turned 18 months on 20 Feb, so we need to get a few documents there).
It's 7 a.m. now, and I go to the kitchen to feed the cats. Sensei is at his computer, and George and Alice are sleeping. I put a kettle on, and while the water is boiling open the window and take a deep breath.
It's the second day of a real spring here -- I hungrily take in the sunshine and the freshness of a humid early morning. I can hear the birds chattering and a sound of a train far far away. I feel the piece and quiet and the anticipation of an adventure -- I always feel this way in the morning, while it's still early and there's a whole new day ahead, and we're planning to go somewhere with a thermos full of hot tea.

THE STORY OF THIS EVENING: The light bulb in the kitchen burned out, so we had to light a torch to have dinner. There's pasta with meat, onion, bread and water on the table. Our friend Olga has just called and said she's going to visit us in a few minutes. The trip to Zmievka went just fine -- the kids really loved the train, especially walking with dad from carriage to carriage. Sensei was reading "Tea" by Pohlebkin on his Kindle out loud (both on a train to Zmievka and on a train back home). I love it when he's reading to me. He's the best reader I know.
In a taxi from the railway station the kids both fell asleep, and we carried them home in our hands.

Monday, April 13, 2015

into the woods

Today I'm here to share a double page layout featuring Ali Edwards' March Story Kit (Magic).

The left side is just a photo enlargement with a title (love these plastic words!), a subtitle (a chipboard shape) and a couple star sequins:

The right side is a grid based layout with a story underneath:

It's a story of one of our trips to a nearby forest (Medvedevsky for you guys from Orel) that happened back in February.

We took a backpack with buns and a thermos of hot black coffee, put the kids into their favorite sleigh and went to ride the hills (which in the forest are just huge). Alice fell asleep on the way.

When we got to the forest it was full of snow, sun and magic. The path was blocked with branches and fallen trees, so Sensei had to clear the way (and George was watching him in fascination). Gradually we got to the hills, and Sensei and George started riding, and then, when Alice woke up, she joined them, too (I was taking the pictures as usual). Then we had coffee and buns, then went hill-riding again, and on our way home Sensei and I couldn't stop talking about how wonderful it would be if we went to the forest more often, and what we should do to make it happen.

I've always loved going to the woods. When I was a little kid, my grandfather used to take me mushroom hunting. We didn't talk much (he wasn't much of a talker), but just being together and learning forest secrets and soaking in that beauty was awesome. Those trips were so special to me.

When I was a teenager, I used to run to the woods all by myself and pretend I was an elf (yes, I know... but anyone can remember some awkward things from that age, right?) and talk to the trees and all.

When I fell in love with my martial arts teacher, and we got married, and went to live in Moscow suburbs, we trained in the woods nearby. Woke up at dawn, had a cup of tea and ran to the forest where Sensei trained me and taught me till I could hardly breathe. And then we went home, had breakfast and went to work.

And now, when we're a family of four (and hope to become a family of more so there as often as we can (like every day).

Forest is a beautiful thing. It always has some mystery in it. The air is different there, and the light, and the sounds. It's never boring. I can't think of a better place to go for a walk with kids, really.

Well, it's not the exact translation of the journaling (I sort of got carried away), but you get the idea. Thank you so much for looking!

Do you like going to the woods?

Saturday, April 11, 2015

i have to do something about my internet time

I meant to post every day.

I also meant to do something scrapbooking-related every day.

I've never, ever managed to do that.

I'd normally come up with an excuse that I don't have enough free time -- a baby and a toddler, you know. But it's just not true. Every day I get at least some free time -- like when the kids are sleeping. A few hours a day! It's more than enough to write a blog post or make a layout. So, I do have the time. I also do have the wish (I pretty much like writing blog posts, let alone scrapbooking). Why don't I do it all then?

The answer is simple. When the kids go to sleep I sit down to my laptop and check my email. Then I check my favorite blogs. Before I know it, I've already spent at least an hour in the internet, and all my energy went there. Honestly, it might be completely different for other people, but after I've spent an hour mindlessly browsing the internet I can't do anything else. I can't make myself get to work, even if this work is what I love doing most of all in the world. I just don't have the energy. It slips away somewhere between all those open tabs.

So, I've come up with a strategy to turn it all around. From now on, whenever I have some free time, I'm going to:

1. Make a cup of tea (I hope it'll help me to get through all the work, and I also want it to become some sort of a ritual, a trigger, a simple reminder that I'm going to do things differently now).

2. Do the work first. Write that blog post. Do some scrapbooking. And then have some time of mindless internet browsing. And then, maybe, do some scrapbooking again.

Today it worked! The kids went to sleep, I made myself a cup of tea, opened the laptop and wrote this post. Yay!

But of course I know that one day means nothing. The reason I decided to write it all out is I want all of you guys to be my accountability team. I'm much more likely to keep this new habit if I make it public.

And just for now --

Cheers! I'm off to do some scrapbooking.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

happy birthday Ilya!

Ilya Frank is one of the coolest people I know. I'm so proud and honored to call him a friend. I still can't believe we're privileged to be his friends. But we are. You may ask him.

I first got to know him as an author of a unique reading method. At that time I was studying foreign languages at the University and bought "The Never-ending Story" in German and "The Little Prince" in French, both adapted using Ilya Frank's Method. I tried it and thought it was genius. And googled "who is Ilya Frank".

I found out that he read fluently in something like 20 (!) languages and spoke most of them, too.

I found out that he was a teacher in Ilya Frank's Language School in the centre of Moscow, and read his book on learning foreign languages ("How to Make a Foreign Language Yours"). The method he described sounded fantastic. I remember thinking, "wish I could try it. Imagine being a teacher in such a cool school!"

When I graduated from the University I went to Moscow and found a job of a personal assistant and absolutely hated working in the office. So I decided to change the job and thought I might just as well start with the best variants I could imagine. I had two ideas of a dream job at the time. One was TV, and the other was Frank's School.

I had neither training nor experience for any of those jobs, but miraculously got invited to the interviews for both TV (as an announcer) and Frank's School (as a teacher). What surprised me even more  I got them both! And after meeting Frank at the interview I had no doubts choosing his school over TV.

So we started as colleagues, and he amazed me all the time we had a chance to meet and talk. When our country got into a crisis in 2008 and the School was having a hard time, I remember talking to Frank and asking why he was so calm.

"I watched an interview with a champion boxer once, — he said.  And that champion was asked how he managed to deal with stress on the ring. "I relax", he said. So this is what I'm doing, too. The tougher it gets, the more I relax". It killed me. I thought it was genius. I still follow this advice, to this day  the more challenging and stressful it gets, the more I relax. When a situation provokes me to tighten and strain, I take a deep breath and soften.

We were gradually becoming friends. The more I knew him, the more I admired him as a person. This is the most important thing about Frank  he's a very good man. He's true, brave, generous, dignified, and kind. He has a remarkable sense of humor, and he's one of the best people in the world to have a conversation with. He's a thoughtful and caring friend, too. When he helps, he's doing it so that you'd never feel obliged; he always gives you a chance to maintain your dignity.

We live in different cities now, but sometimes have a chance to meet and talk; after that, Sensei and I always remember those conversations as simply the best.

Frank is a writer and a poet. He's my favorite modern writer and my favorite modern poet. It has nothing to do with the fact that we're friends. He's just a damn good writer and a great poet. His background is unbelievable; he has a profound knowledge in history and cultural studies, he has read more books than anyone I know (and mind you, a few of my friends are professors), and have I mentioned 20 languages yet? You get the idea.

He's also our first son's Godfather.

Sensei and I often talk about culture and traditions that we've lost as a society. The generation link is broken, we don't learn from our history (we don't know much of our history, to begin with), traditions are not passed on from father to son, the culture of communication, of mindful living, of getting through challenges with style and grace is getting lost, too. And whenever we're discussing the ways of bringing it all back or even creating a new culture, we remember Ilya Frank.

"Educated like Frank", "polite like Frank", "smart like Frank", "dignified like Frank", "writing like Frank", "a friend like Frank"  -- you name it. "Like Frank" is our personal family meme. It means "the best way possible". He isn't directly teaching us anything, but he'll always be our mentor. An example to follow.

Happy birthday dear friend! We're so grateful that once on this day you were born.


Saturday, April 4, 2015

march prompt

In terms of decoration, it's a very simple prompt -- the only thing I did to the action list was applying a digital "take action" stamp and turning the color aqua (as it's my accent color  for the album this year).

Here's the translation:


1. Scrapbooking

write out my scrap story and come up with a plan for 2015 (it's never too late!)
every month put what I'm going to scrap on my calendar and hang it in front of my table
minimum to complete: OLW 2015; Project Life 2015; Week in The Life 2014; December Daily 2014 and 2013 (yes, I know, I know)

2. Let go

take pictures of the things I no longer want (especially my scrap stash)
post them for sale
give away the unsold

3. Home

buy a table and chairs, curtains (kitchen and living room), photo frames, candles, dishes, cups and a few containers
make a Control Journal
declutter and learn to keep the house clean
a dream: ...paint the walls...

4. Tea

read "Tea" by Pohlebkin (write out the most important things)
learn Chinese tea ceremony
buy the inventory for it

Thursday, April 2, 2015

reflections in the album

I was thinking on the ways of adding my monthly reflections to my One Little Word album, and here's what I came up with.

In the end of every month I write a long blog post on how I'm doing with my 2015 intentions. Instead of printing it out and sticking into the album I decided to choose the most important things that I've accomplished and write them out on a little reflections card. I write in Russian, but they look like this:

debt:  hooray! eliminated
scrap: 5 layouts and signed up for OLW
home: decluttered the balcony and gave away all the stuff we didn't need
photography: reading "Beyond Portraiture" by Brian Peterson

Thus, I only see the things I've accomplished and it makes me smile and want to do more.

And how are you adding your reflections to your albums?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

march reflections

Each month I'm going to look back at my 2015 intentions, see how I'm doing and set some more specific goals for the next month.

This month we all got down with flu, so I sort of lost my track on what was going on, just trying to survive and to keep everyone else in the house alive. Still, some of the things miraculously got done (not much).


I indeed started tracking my Bible studies with a calendar, and liked it. Going to keep it for April, too. 


finished January in a 2015 album! How cool is that? Also, January and March OLW prompts are done. Woo-hoo!

blog daily

this is my personal heartbreak. Not a single post since we got ill.


doing great here. FlyLady system really works wonders (or, rather, I finally got ready for it).


really deep into that Pohlebkin's Tea book and loving it, of course. Bought a gaiwan, too, and one of my favorite oolong teas (Tie Kuan Yin -- like this one) and a black tea with lots of tips (which provide a fantastic aroma).


thanks to the illness we really became closer with the kids -- I had to always be with them, to take care of them, to go to bed early with them.


not eating much since the flu doesn't really boost your appetite.



go to bed and wake up early

surprisingly, yes! and it worked out just fine. Hope I'll be able to keep it up even when I'm not ill.


Still reading Beyond Portraiture by Brian Peterson (photography) and signed up for Everyday Photography class from BigPicture Classes.


Love: tick off every day I read the Bible and read/watch Lazarev. Take notes as I do. Make them into art prints, make them visible, tangible reminders (there are at least 3 already on my mind: treasure, strength&dignity, divine qualities).

Relationships: go for a walk with kids every day. Come up with activities that we could do together and enjoy together. Something I would look forward to, too.

Scrapboking: OLW Feb, Apr and Reflections. PL Feb, Mar. Occasional layouts are welcome, too.

Blog: every day.

Home: photograph my stash already!!

Tea: finish off the book and write out the most important things. Take a trip to the Golden Monkey (local tea and coffee shop) every week so that I always have a supply of good tea.