The Adventures of Anastasiya Didok

Life and faith in a nutshell.

Month: December, 2013

A Year In Review: 2013

Since I have been MIA pretty much since getting married, it would be fitting to say a few words about my 2012 before we head into reviewing 2013. In 2012 I made a few difficult decisions in order to get my life back on track, which immediately put me in the “fast lane” in terms of life changing events. It’s like God was waiting for me to put my stubbornness aside so He could propel me into what He had in store. So in 2012 I went from single to married in a matter of months, planned a wedding, got promoted, went on an impromptu honeymoon around Europe, moved twice, and eloped to Canada for a day for Christmas (also unplanned). We joked that we are trying to get pregnant in order to “do it all” before the end of the world. And what do you know, December brought a wonderful surprise. I didn’t think any other year could possibly beat that. But 2013 definitely did. Here is what happened to us in the past year in order:

We moved 3 more times
We took a “baby moon” to Arizona and Nevada and visited Phoenix, Grand Canyon, and Las Vegas
I got promoted again
My husband got promoted twice
We bought our first house
We had a baby
My grandmother passed away
My sister-in-law got married
I went back to work
We paid off three credit cards and all our medical bills, leaving us just one last credit card balance and a mere month away from being debt free except the mortgage!

Each event above deserves a separate post of course. I will get going on that as soon as I feel inspired! Needless to say, I am pretty excited for 2014, although I hope that the pace slows down just a tiny little bit. Although I love excitement and most events above were positive, the year has been pretty stressful, and I am hoping to get some rest in 2014.

A Working Mom’s Ideal Wardrobe

Between writing my previous post and this one I came across Miss Minimalist blog and realized that I don’t qualify to bear the “Minimalist” title. She has only 10 items in her wardrobe! I won’t even try to get to that, although back when I was single I had moments when that was the case. Those were the days… But back to the topic. Below is a list of items I believe are a comfortable amount for a mom who works in a professional setting that requires a lot of walking around.

1. 2 pairs of jeans
2. 2 t-shirts
3. 3 long sleeve tops that can go under a suit or with jeans
4. 1 pant suit
5. 1 skirt that can be paired with the jacket from the pant suit
6. 2 dresses
7. 1 pair of flats
8. 1 pair of low heel boots
9. 1 purse
10. 1 hoodie or light sweater
11. sweats/pajamas to lounge around the house
12. a mid-waist wool coat (goes well with both jeans and office attire!)

Above is my ideal checklist of things to own. I’m going to pare down in the next days and see if I can get close to that. One thing I’ve found is that well-made maternity shirts actually are also a great fit for hiding belly flab when you aren’t pregnant. Therefore, most of my shirts are actually maternity wear. And although people told me that I will get SO tired of it that I won’t want to ever put it on again postpartum, that’s actually not the case at all, as my husband has graciously agreed to spend our previous year’s tax return entirely on maternity wear for me, and the clothes are some of the nicest I’ve ever owned! In my next post, I will compare what I have previously owned to my uncluttered wardrobe. I might even get some new hangers to celebrate!

Minimalist Woman

My inspiration to write often comes in response to other blog posts. Usually it’s the ones that I don’t exactly agree with. This is another one of those. Basically the post I read was titled “Minimalist Woman” and was written by a woman who has realized that she didn’t wear about 70% of her clothes and downsized her wardrobe. Twice. To a mere 116 items. I just about peed my pants laughing. Because 116 items is by far not a minimalist wardrobe!

The reason I was even looking that up is because I read something on the zen blog (which I love) about a challenge to downsize to a mere 100 total personal belongings. Then it linked to a similar post, attempting to downsize to 50. However, I noticed that most minimalist posts were written by men, so I wondered if there are any women out there who did a similar challenge, because for some reason it seems to me that men need less personal items than women. So I googled minimalist woman and came across the article above. Which made me realize that posts about TRUE minimalist women are going to be a bit of a challenge to find. I guess we like to have a lot of pretty things.

So I set out to count my own wardrobe. At this point in life I actually do not consider myself a minimalist at all, and feel like my wardrobe has a wide variety of items in it! Turns out that my “lavish variety” consists of 40 items of clothing, including maternity wear! The 40 also includes items that I don’t think are a necessity. For example, I own 4 white tanks, but could easily go with 2. I also somehow ended up with 5 pairs of jeans, which was unheard of for me until I got married (I always got away with 1 pair of boot cut and 1 pair skinny! You could totally get away with just skinny jeans, if you even need to own a pair at all!). In addition, lately I’ve counted an abundance of casual t-shirts. I could probably give away one or two and be o.k., but it’s nice to have choices (although I still repeatedly only reach for two of my favorites). I also counted my shoes: I own a whopping 8 pairs. Including my “sentimental” wedding shoes. “You must be into purses.” Nope. I have one purse that my husband has purchased for me in Milan on our honeymoon. It’s my special occasions purse. For everyday I use my Medela pump bag, because if I ever spill anything in it, it’s an easy clean-up. And with a baby, things spill! (Fine, I admit. I spilled things without the baby all the time too!) “It’s accessories then.” I own one necklace that my late grandmother gave me for graduation, and my wedding ring. I also have a bracelet from my parents that they gave me for my 21st birthday to match my cool vintage watch that I purchased at an antique store for $3, but I don’t wear them because the battery died in the watch. I should probably write about my watch. It’s pretty cool…

I am now inspired to declutter my home once again, and also to write about the different areas of life that can be minimilized! Because possessions and belongings are not what makes us happy in life. And order makes it easier to relax and thrive. Stay tuned for my list of the not-so minimalist wardrobe for a working mom! Other lists will probably follow as well.

Thankful for my in-laws

So for Thanksgiving I was planning on writing a post about how thankful I am for each individual family member that I have. Instead we hosted a dinner party for 16. Therefore I am writing about this now. Please forgive my being off schedule with the thankfulness.

I grew up as an only child and suddenly God has placed me in a giant family through marriage. My husband is the oldest of 7. Talk about opposites attract… When I was little I prayed for a sibling. I prayed until I was 13 and realized I’d have to be more of a babysitter than a sibling at that point. Years later, God has blessed me with an opportunity to feel what it’s like to have the siblings I so longed for when I was younger. Each person in my family has made some impact on my life in the past year and a half, and I wanted to tell them in writing that I appreciate them. We’ll go from youngest to oldest in order.

My youngest sister-in-law:
You are a contradiction of characters all put together in one person. But your sweetness and sincerity can sweep anyone off their feet. I’m honored that you have chosen me as your confidant on several occasions for difficult conversations. I have great memories from the few times we hung out and had “sister dates.” I want you to know that I’m always super excited about major events in your life and will be there for you as much or as little as you need me.

My newest brother-in-law:
You are awesome and we are so glad that our little sister married you and not some idiot. You have a wonderful sense of humor and a good head on your shoulders. You’ve definitely added flavor to our already colorful bunch. I just hope that uno hasn’t ruined it all for everyone 🙂

My second youngest brother-in-law:
Your positivity and easygoing attitude are a rare find. You are hilarious and trustworthy. You have integrity and drive. I just KNOW that God is going to use you as an instrument for great things and influencing many many people. I am honored to be related to you and always happy to see you hanging out at our house when I come home.

My third youngest brother-in-law:
Man you’ve been MIA from our lives but it’s always good to see you on those rare occasions that you do show up. We miss you. You were the first one in the family to show me unconditional acceptance and I feel like I can relate to you more than anyone else even though I’ve gotten to know you less than anyone else. Please know that our house is always open for you. Ok, maybe not like at 6:00a.m. on a weekend… But otherwise.

My fourth youngest brother-in-law:
You are something else. You have that personality that collects people around you and organizes social activities. If it weren’t for you, we wouldn’t have football nights and wouldn’t have bonded even more in the past few months! Also, your willingness to always lend your help is greatly appreciated. It feels good to have reliable family in case something goes wrong!

My older sister-in-law:
Before we took that trip to hot springs with our little ones I was afraid to open up to you, but wanted to. Our conversations have been such an inspiration, and such a blessing for me. I felt isolated in the first year of my marriage and after talking to you that time I started feeling more connected. Every time we talk I feel like I can open up more and more and I really appreciate that. I truly hope that together we can influence our family and get something going at our church. I appreciate you like you can’t even imagine!

My oldest brother-in-law:
You were the last one I noticed and the most fascinating to get to know. If I had to choose one word to describe you, it would be “depth.” Your attention to emotions of people around blows me away. I am proud of you for making some difficult decisions last year and for sticking with it. If you ever move, you will actually be someone I miss.

Mom:
I am so blessed to have you as my mother in law. Your sacrifices and helpfulness are sweet, although admittedly often overboard. But it would be a foolish person that doesn’t notice the kindness of the heart that you take care of people with. I am blessed to have you watching my baby boy. I can trust that he is in good, loving, hands. I also would like to admit that you are a way better homemaker than I ever could be, and I am learning a lot from you when it comes to hanging things, folding things, and stacking things. I love you very much and feel extremely blessed to have you as my new mom.

Dad:
It is so good when you take the time to sit with us in the livingroom. Lately you’ve been doing more of that, and it feels great. You are a great theologian and a wise, acute man. I feel honored that you approved of me marrying your oldest son and always appreciate your words of encouragement.

My parents and my husband:
Please don’t feel left out. I could probably write an entire blog about all the things I appreciate about you guys! You are more dear to me than anyone else in the world and deserve separate articles that I’m sure I will be inspired to write in the future!

Our experience with Cloth Diapers

This will not be a post on expert advice about cloth diapers, simply because I have no clue how to correctly wash them, treat them, strip them, or dry them. In addition, I do not know the difference between an insert and a doubler. I would also be unable to list and explain the differences in the different types of diapers, but I’m sure there are plenty of sites that can. I also cannot tell you how many different ways there are to fold a prefold and what they are all called.  That said, we exclusively cloth diaper our child and use cloth wipes. This is our experience:

I don’t remember how I found out about them. But something started me on reading all about cloth diapers. There is a LOT to read about and the cloth diapering world can become an addiction. So one day I braced myself for a difficult conversation, marched into my house, and announced to my husband that I want to cloth diaper our children. I was ready to fight for this one. My husband’s response was “Oh honey that’s so great, I thought I’m gonna have to convince YOU to do it!” My husband doesn’t remember how he found out about cloth diapers either. From that moment on though it was decided, and we weren’t even expecting at that point. The first reason we wanted to cloth diaper was because there are a bunch of chemicals in a disposable and we didn’t want that touching our baby’s butt. Our second reason was money.

All through my pregnancy I kept reading the blogs about cloth diapers, following cloth diapering gurus on Facebook, joining cloth diapering groups, and entering cloth diaper giveaways. (I won my very first one). I was obsessed with cloth diapers and everything about them. I was determined to cloth diaper. When I broke the news to my parents, they thought it was a wise decision. When I broke the news to my friends they thought I went insane and will surely grow out of my ignorance as soon as I witness my newborn’s poop for the very first time.  I was overwhelmed with information and wanted to try all the different types of cloth diapers. Luckily my husband kept his head straight, and picked out a newborn package that featured several different kinds, so that I could try them all and get it out of my system. Unlike me, he just watched “Cloth diapering 101” video on youtube and knew right away that we will only be using prefolds and all-in-ones. We ordered the package a few days after baby arrived and received it when he was 10 days old. We had a stash of newborn disposables as back up, and an even smaller stash of size 1’s.

Once we started, the diapers somehow made their way into our home on their own. My mother looked at the prefolds we purchased and promptly went to make some more out of old cotton sheets (babies favorites as far as his skin is concerned). A chance meeting at a baby consignment store brought a bunch of g-pants and an econobum package into our house from a mother who tried but didn’t stick with cloth diapering. And I probably spent about $80 online adding to our “stash.” Then God told me to take a Facebook fast, during which I realized that I spend way too much of my attention on stinking diapers! (pun intended).  So I unliked all but a couple cloth diapering pages (one because my friend runs the social media for the store and I want to support her, and another one because the mama who writes on the blog had a baby only a few days apart from mine and I could really relate to her posts). I also stopped looking constantly for cloth diapers, because my son now had enough. In retrospect, my cloth diapering frenzy and the time I allotted to all the “research” seems plain silly.

Looking back, I should’ve listened to my husband and just gotten what he suggested we should. Some prefolds and some all-in-ones. That’s what we ended up using at the end and I felt that the newborn package was a waste of money.  We used up most of our back-up disposables, but once we ran out of them didn’t buy more. We meant to, but didn’t ever get to it, and to be honest never really needed them other than once when we stayed at our in-laws for too long (who let us borrow a diaper). My husband did install a diaper sprayer, but he assembled it on his own from scratch rather than purchasing the fancy retail ones (there wasn’t a significant price difference at the end though). I wash with regular Tide. Cold rinse, hot wash. There are a million overwhelming articles about diaper laundry and most require that you line dry them, but who are we kidding in Seattle! I throw mine right in the dryer and so far none have been “ruined.”

Here is my advise to those on the fence about cloth diapering:

* Don’t get sucked into all the groups, blogs, discussions, and posts. It will overwhelm you and you will feel like you are an idiot who doesn’t know much and are doing it all wrong. If you think about it rationally, you will see how ridiculous it is that there is even a RIGHT and WRONG way to cloth diaper.

* Watch cloth diapering 101 on youtube and then STOP and don’t look for any more information. Because you will find plenty, but none will be as useful or add to anything you really need to know. It will only waste your time and energy.

* Buy some cloth diapers. Cloth diapers are available on Craigslist, as well as at numerous baby consignment stores. The cheapest website I found for new ones is cottonbabies.com.  I personally think it’s gross to have what once held someone else’s crap touch my baby’s butt. Therefore all of our prefolds are new, but the covers aren’t since they don’t come in direct contact with his skin. That said, “Childish Things” in Seattle sells them new and used in very good condition with no stains for a pretty good price. If I got a re-do I would’ve started with a dozen Indian cotton prefolds and five proraps, and a pack of 6 newborn Bumgeniuses. My favorite all-in-ones for later are Ragababes but they are pricey for a diaper. I have only one. Really all of the diapers I’ve tried work just fine, so don’t concentrate that much on what to get and just see what comes your way.

* It might be because I’ve never tried anything different, but cloth diapering feels like second nature and also nothing special. Poop is the same in a disposable or a cloth diaper. Don’t listen to people who say you won’t do it – they have most likely never tried it. Your mom and grandma did it without the washer and dryer and nobody wrote about it or thought it to be a big deal.

* Don’t overwhelm yourself with laundry questions. Tide works just fine and so does the dryer. If you care so much about stains, you can sun them out in the summer. I personally think it’s a waste of time for something that will be immediately smeared with poop again.

* If you decide it’s not for you, please don’t judge yourself or feel guilty for being a bad mother. I felt horrible for the lady who gave me her Econobums. While saying that she didn’t stick with it she seemed defeated, as if she viewed herself as a failure and was in awe of me being a better mother for sticking with it. I believe that’s just another lie the devil wants her to believe to bring her down. And for the record, Econobums are wonderful covers but outrageously huge inserts, and I don’t think I would’ve stuck with it either have a began with that package and no sprayer. We use those prefolds as a changing pad for when we go out. That’s how huge they are.

* Get a sprayer. Maybe get a wet bag. I have one wet bag that came with that newborn package. Plastic shopping bags from Safeway hold the dirty diapers just as well while the wet bag is in the wash.

* We use cloth wipes (that also came in that package) and disposable wipes. I usually wet half a wipe and leave the other half dry and one is typically enough, two at most. We got a three-pack of disposable wipes and still haven’t run through them 4 months later. Anything can be a cloth wipe by the way. Such as baby wash cloths available in abundance at Ross and TJ Maxx. Whoever thought of special cloth wipes is a marketing genius!

* What else, what else? I think that about covers it all. If anyone has any specific questions I missed, please feel free to ask me in the comments! I will be more than happy to share my “wisdom.”

Submission and Respect

I am currently reading a book “Love and Respect” by Emerson Eggerich. So far I am not particularly enjoying the book, because in my opinion Eggerich is not as funny as he attempts to come off, and he has a tendency to overkill the point, going on for chapters and chapter about something that could be summarized in one sentence. Despite my dislike of his writing style, I do agree with his point, which is that wives are to respect their husbands.

God revealed to me a cycle of respect while I was talking about it on a trip with my sister-in-law. Before that trip, I had a solid understanding that I needed to respect and submit to my husband, even in the tiniest, most seemingly insignificant requests, but this was my “aha” moment as to why. And it wasn’t Eggerich’s “because that will help him love me like Christ loves the Church” take. Neither was it “because God says so,” although that should have been enough. It was this: a man who is given his wife’s respect through submission, despite perhaps being undeserving of it in her eyes, will eventually rise up to be a man deserving of everyone’s respect.  Here is how it works in practice:

God leads the family through the husband. This is something that us christian women agree with in theory. When it comes to practice though, it gets interesting. After getting married, I was shocked to find out that actions that I knew were truly wise (as opposed to wise in my own eyes, because there were plenty of those as well, but that’s not what I’m talking about here), no longer applied in cases where my husband happened to have a different opinion. Even if all logic and experience pointed to him being wrong, the end result would always prove him right! It worked to the point of absurdity. My husband checks in on our finances once a month or so to gain perspective and set direction. I, on the other hand, am constantly on Mint.com, categorizing every transaction from every account, every single day. In a recent discussion about how to pay for our hospital bills, my husband claimed that one of our low-interest credit cards has a limit of a certain random amount. I KNEW that the limit was lower, and frantically corrected him, being annoyed that he didn’t remember the correct limit and was not as panicky as I about paying all of our bills. I checked on that limit just hours before. I knew that limit was lower. I knew we couldn’t count on that credit to pay for the large hospital bills. All he responded with was “Really? Weird. I thought it was higher,” and restated what he thought the limit is. The next day I went to pay the bills and to my utter astonishment discovered that the bank has increased our credit limit on that card. Yup, you guessed it. Exactly to the random amount that my husband claimed the limit was! (And no, he didn’t know, and hasn’t checked on it before our conversation).

I don’t know why or how it works, but the point is, it does, and the faster wives get on board with God’s plan for the family, the better off and easier their lives will become! When we first got married, my husband has kindly informed me that he has a problem with most of my clothes. Of course, being 26, and having a very carefully constructed and quite pricey wardrobe, I was not exactly ecstatic to hear that, especially from someone whose style staple, for the most part, has been sweats.  Nevertheless, I stepped over my fashion convictions, pulled out everything I owned, went through it piece by piece, and promptly took everything he disliked to Goodwill. Then I told him I had nothing to wear. And I was not joking. The “obedience purge” resulted in a trip to the mall, initiated by my husband, during which I found out that the sweats guy actually has quite a sophisticated sense of style. Turns out he hasn’t shopped for himself in ages because he has been concentrating on giving pretty much everything he made to his family. I could have stood my ground, as I am still convinced that there was nothing wrong with my clothes, and that perhaps my husband was just testing his stance as the leader of the family. However, my submission has resulted in the following: 1. I found out that my husband has a wonderful taste in clothing — something I would have never known have I insisted to keep all my clothes. 2. I found out that my husband has a sacrificial heart and is willing to give up everything for family. 3. Knowing that solidified my trust in his leadership. 4. My obedience solidified his trust in me. 5. Because he knows that I will submit to his leadership, my husband is more likely to make wise decisions in the future. 6. I got a brand new wardrobe.

I know a few wives who have been fighting their husbands on small issues for decades! The fights ate away at the closeness and peace in the home, making husbands withdrawn, and wives longing for love. In the beginning of the marriage, new husbands are likely to perform “tests” like the wardrobe one above. Unfortunately, many wives utterly fail. Devout in their convictions, whether about mothering, setting the standards of righteous appearance, or something else, they trample their husbands opinions, and with that, many chances for the husband to grow into the man who God intended him to be. It is important for a man to know that his wife is behind him on any decision that he makes. That forces him to think twice about his actions and decisions, and consider whether or not they are foolish. If through his “tests” he figures out that his opinion does not matter, and that no matter what he says, the wife will do her own thing, he will have no motivation to become wiser or think about the consequences of his actions. The wife will have her own way in the immediate, but lose out in the long run, wondering all along why her husband is not as respectable and loving as she would like him to be.

My take on Pregnancy, Giving Birth, and Having a Newborn!

As each stage of the wonder of having a child passed in my life, I wanted to write about it, but somehow never got to it. Looking back, every part of making a life triggers exactly the same reaction in me. I feel that everything horrible, awful, and difficult that people attribute to those experiences is grossly exaggerated!

Before I was pregnant, and especially while I was pregnant, women who already went through a pregnancy told me about how difficult it is going to be. Morning sickness, constant going to the bathroom, stomach cramps, mood swings, being unable to sleep, back ache, swollen feet… The list went on and on and on! Whenever I dared respond that my experience went otherwise, I’d get a “Oh, just you wait!” So I waited, and waited, and waited. I waited for the misery of the third trimester, but when I still wasn’t miserable at month 8, someone actually still said “just you wait until the LAST month.” But the last month came and went, and I was still alive and working full-time! Before you accuse me of having an easy pregnancy, I would like to say that I vomited from week 9 to week 14, every day, sometimes twice a day. My feet did swell (although only during the last 3 weeks — I attribute that to regular exercise). My lower back began to hurt at week 18 and never stopped. And I was 10 days late. And I still thought that pregnancy wasn’t as bad as people described it. It is what it is, and that’s what it takes to produce a life. Women need to get over it and stop scaring their first-time pregnant counterparts. Did I LOVE being pregnant, as some claim? Absolutely not! In fact, I am enjoying not being pregnant right now very much. But I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Before I gave birth, and especially weeks before going into labor, women who already went through labor told me about how difficult it is going to be. I was prepared for a pain equivalent to being cut open with a knife without an anesthetic, and a looooong process during which I would starve because evil doctors in the hospital wouldn’t let me eat. What scared me the most was a post circulating about labor being equivalent to 20 bones being broken in a body at the same time. The reality of giving birth was nothing of the sort! Before you accuse me of having an easy labor, I would like to say that mine lasted 36 hours, and although I did take an epidural, it was at hour 27. Baby took 2.5 hours to push out. It was also back labor all throughout because my little acrobat decided to turn the night before. Additionally, the epidural pretty much wore off by the time it was time to push. Was labor painless? Absolutely not. It’s painful, but nowhere close to being cut open with a knife or breaking 20 bones all at once! In fact, I’d rather have 20 babies than break a single bone. Oh, and by the way, you are not hungry during labor. I started with a midwife who was trying to feed me all throughout. Every morsel of food was repelling and almost immediately vomited out. My advice to girls pregnant for the first time: pray and get the horror stories out of your mind! Fear will make your body tense up and intensify the labor pains. Remember and remind yourself that you were created for childbearing. Read up on it and know what to expect of the process. Then trust your body and God’s design!

Before I had a newborn, and especially right after I gave birth to my baby boy, women who already went through having a baby told me about how difficult it is going to be. I was prepared to never sleep again. Ever. In addition, I geared up for a forever messy house and surviving on ramen noodles and the kindness of neighbors and family who would bring food because I would never have time to cook or clean again (because of the baby, of course!). My husband and I would also never get to go anywhere because it would be so difficult to get ready with the baby. And changing diapers. Oh man did I hear poop stories and blowout stories! The friends who found out we were planning to cloth diaper rendered us insane. Then baby came into this world, and man what a wonderful experience it was! Before you accuse me of having a trouble-free child, I would like to say that just like any normal newborn he woke up every two hours all through the night and demanded that someone feed him (that would be me). The trouble with babies, you see, is not that they want to wake up and eat, but rather that they don’t necessarily want to go back to sleep immediately after, and would rather play or coo or cry. My little boy was no different. There were nights my husband found me curled up on the floor by the crib because I accidentally fell asleep while waiting for the next time I have to stick a pacifier that fell out back in my angel’s mouth. In fact, baby still wakes up at 4a.m. to eat. But somehow when you are in the mothering state of mind, you manage to function on very little sleep and be absolutely ok with that! Your body adjusts. And turns out that there is plenty of time while the baby sleeps to clean the house and even get dinner ready! The poop? Absolutely disgusting and gross, except only when it comes to the offspring of others. Your own child’s somehow just isn’t bad! (And yes, we are still cloth diapering). Unless you are completely self-centered, having a newborn will not be as bad as you may have heard. You will not only survive, but even thrive, and find that there are a zillion things about babies to enjoy that FAR outweigh any negatives that mothers tend to concentrate on for some reason.

Children are a blessing! View them as such, and you will not be disappointed!