Homage to My Guardian Angel…

This week the night sky became brighter. Heaven got another guardian Angel, my beloved grandma…

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It is sooo hard to lose people we love, and even harder when they are thousands of kilometers away. When you don’t even get a chance to say a proper goodbye…

But today I would like to celebrate my grandmother, one of the strongest women I’ve ever known and ever will. I refuse to remember her being fragile. I refuse to remember what three strokes did to her. I choose to remember my grandmother as a strong, beautiful and independent woman full of life that she was.

If you ask me what comes to my mind first when I think about her is her cooking. I can still recall the smell of her creations: pyrogies, pies, pyrizhky… You name it. She could make it all and it was delicious! She made salad wraps even before they became cool, just an FYI.

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I remember her gentle hands despite the hard work she had done. She loved working in her garden. She planted everything from vegetables and fruits to berries and beautiful flowers. It was always such a treat to step into her world and pick whatever my heart desired or even climb a cherry tree or read a book in the shadow of its leaves.

She was a great singer. My grandmother was a part of a university chorus during her student years. People she met there became her lifelong friends that she kept on visiting every year until her health permitted. As a matter of fact, she even had videos made of her singing for my wedding that she couldn’t attend. It was her passion. I can still hear her powerful voice that always invited everyone to sing along…

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My grandma was an early riser: she would be up long before dawn. She loved being on the go. My brightest memories are the ones of us swimming or playing badminton together. Our badminton matches lasted forever. You know, we just had that synergy thing going. Oh, and dancing! She loved to dance with me during cool summer nights to the music playing at the central square in Chernihiv.

We regularly went for walks at a big park right near her house. My grandma always let me climb the old canons there, and I thought it was soo cool.

She loved going to watch plays at the local opera. I remember us waiting in the hallways and me being mesmerized by pictures of actors. To me they looked like superstars, so dreamy and put together… We went to a children’s theater, too. I can’t recall any of the performances in specific, just the feeling of being completely and utterly elated. Way to spark up a child’s curiosity and creativity!

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My grandma was, is and will always be an undeniable part of my identity as a grown woman. I am so grateful that she had a chance to meet Justin and see Sofia, even if only on Skype… But for now, I have to say goodbye… Please, hug grandpa for me and watch over us and Sofia…

Till we meet again, babusya… I love you…

Olena

 

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Check In with Sofia: 13 Months Old

Another month has gone by in the blink of an eye, and our little peanut turned 13 months old today.

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First tricycle ride

One of the big achievements this month was getting over the fear of balloons. *LOL!* Even though it was an important accomplishment, Sofia has reached even bigger milestones.

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My favourite tippy toes

A few days ago Sofia was able to make a few steps on her own while trying to get to me from Justin. Both of us were astonished! Lately we’ve been noticing more and more her standing without any support. Our little daredevil will be walking on her own in no time!

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Look how excited she is!!!

Other than that Sofia looooves walking *more like, running!* while holding on to her Minnie car. Climbing stairs, or pretty much anything for that matter, is another hobby of hers. Maybe it’s a different kind of a cardio exercise for parents when your heart litterally stops and then starts beating extremely fast from fear. *Just kidding! It would make sense though, right?!*

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Ready to do some splashing around!

Another big milestone was growing first two bottom teeth. So ‘no more’ to a toothless smile around here, and ‘hell yeah!’ to nibbling on a slice of honeydew!

Our vocabulary has improved a bit too. Now Sofia can say ‘ma-ma’, ‘da-da’, ‘boobay’, ‘nomnomnom’ and various syllables like ‘beh’, ‘meh’, ‘dee’,etc.

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Let’s play!

Some of Sofia’s various activities are dancing to favourite tunes, doing ‘nice-nice’ to Bella, turning on and off the light, splashing in a bathtub, doing peek-a-boo.

Our baby girl also likes to play with her toy car track and a kitchen set, as well as to put balls into a small opening in a toy basket.

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Did I just hear someone say ‘ice-cream’?!

And the very last but definitely not least: ICE-CREAM! Should I say any more?:)

When did your baby start walking on their own?

PS. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

xoxo
Olena

 

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Sofia’s 1st Birthday

It’s been a little over a week since our little princess turned one.

As a first-time mom (not sure it will be any different in the future though), it was an emotional day for me. I was very happy, yet nostalgic.

This year went by waaaay too fast. It feels like it was yesterday when Justin brought Sofia to my face so I could see her and kiss her for the first time as doctors were stitching me up. I still tear up at the thought of hearing her cry for the first time and not being able to see her for a couple of minutes because of the screen. I remember how she stopped crying the very same moment she was reunited with me. She was so tiny and wrinkly and I was in love.

Sofia has grown so much! And so did our love for her. She is our perfect little girl and we couldn’t be any prouder. She now weighs 19.5 pounds and is about 71 cm tall.

Educators at the daycare don’t stop telling us how independent Sofia is. She is always on the move, touching things, exploring the world around her. She likes to spend more and more time standing up and to walk around the room while holding on to furniture, walls, doors. Sometimes she lets go without realizing it and stands on her own for several seconds. I’ve learnt to keep my excitement in not to scare her off.

Sofia likes to play peek-a-boo among other games.

Sofia loves eating cut up fruits and berries, and cheese… She’ll eat cheese anytime! And if she likes you, she’ll even share!

I still breastfeed her, and I’m loving every single moment of it!

For her first birthday party theme we went with Minnie. She had a blast, and so did we. And I’d like to share with you some memories of her special day. ENJOY!

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Thanks for popping by!

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Backdrop

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Fruit wands

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Pink Fruit Punch

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Mommy’s & Daddy’s wishes

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Sweet table

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Minnie smash cake

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It took a while to dig in, but it was a SUCCESS!

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Minnie Birthday cake for our mini Sofia!

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Blowing the candle with mommy’s help

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So happy together!

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Play, play, play!

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New favourite toy!

What emotions did you experience before your baby’s first birthday?

PS. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

xoxo
Olena

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Check In With Sofia: 10 & 11 Months Old

Guys, I refuse to believe it: My little princess is turning 1 year old this week! Where did the time fly? I mean, it’s insane!

Today I’d like to reminisce about the past 2 months and share with you some of her milestones.

10 Months Old

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The day Sofia turned 10 months old was a very significant day for her and our family as a whole: It was her first day at a daycare. She was supposed to start a month later, but since I made a decision to go back to work from a maternity leave sooner than expected because I got an amazing opportunity with my company.

Dropping her off for the first time was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.I had a big lump in my throat. Thankfully, Sofia integrated really well pretty much from the get go and it made the process so much easier for me as well.

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At 10 months, Sofia loves to climb absolutely everything, especially the stairs, and step on her tippy toes the heater to look out the window.

Clicking buttons of a musical center and pulling out books is another fascination of hers.

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Sofia started to show her dancing skills. Watching her bounce and shuffle to songs is incredibly funny. I can tell she’s listening to lyrics too, because she’ll wave ‘hello’ and ‘bye-bye’ when she’s supposed to.

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Sofia can already eat finger food. She enjoys eating grapes and rusks, and pretty much all fruits. She can drink through a straw from her sippy cup and says ‘da-da-da-da-da’ non-stop.

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Our baby girl loves to spend time outdoors: going on the swing and looking out of her stroller are definitely at the top of her list.

11 Months Old

 Sofia weighs 19 pounds. Can say ‘ma-ma’ and ‘da-da’. She started saying ‘da-da’ about a week before saying ‘ma-ma’.

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Hearing her say ‘ma-ma’ was so special and precious because my mom got to witness this with me. My heart melts to even simply think about that day…

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At 11 months, Sofia got over some of her fears: She is no longer afraid to go down the slide or to touch the grass. She loves playing ball with Bella and has fun pulling on toilet paper when mommy’s not looking.

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Sofia is an independent little girl. Occasionally, she can even stand on her own without any support for several seconds. Also, walking while holding on to couches, walls and chairs brought house exploration to a whole new level!

At the daycare educators are fascinated about how calm she is, always keeping herself busy roaming around and making new friends. Of course… PFFFF… Sofia’s our daughter, no wonder! *wink, wink*
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Food-wise, the new favourite snack is cheese! Eating cheese, berries and fruit on her own is exciting and… messy! Oh well, Bella doesn’t mind picking up stuff off the floor, so I guess at the end of the day everyone is happy!

If you’ve missed previous check-in’s, here they are:

What emotions did you experience before your baby’s first birthday?

PS. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

xoxo
Olena

 

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#FBF: Barcelona, Spain – The City Of Dreams (Part 2)

Happy Friday!

This is the last flash back to my trip to Europe some 2 years ago.

If you missed the previous posts, you can catch up here:

This was the last full day in Barcelona for me and my brother. Both of us were pretty sick, so we didn’t take many pictures of each other. And the ones we did, well, I won’t post them because I look sick. Ha!

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That day we went to Park Guell, which was built between 1900 and 1915 . It was commissioned by Eusebi Guell and designed by Antoni Gaudi.

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Since we took a metro to get there, we needed to walk for about 20 minutes to enter the park. But it was definitely worth it. There were great views over the city and plenty of architecture to see.

The house below was actually the place where Gaudi lived there until his death in 1926.

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An interesting fact: The park was originally supposed to be a commercial housing development, which turned out to be an unsuccessful venture.

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Afterwards we went to Barcelona’s Arc de Triomf. It was built in 1888 as the main access gate for the 1888 World Fair.

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I must admit that people there, at least the ones we met, were extremely nice and helpful, including this police officer.

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We walked A LOT that day! To be honest with you, I don’t even remember what majority of the pictures we took are. *Haha!* However, I had to share this one.

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This was a street show in front of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia. Spanish people definitely know how to capture tourist attention!

Have you ever been sick while traveling? How did you make the most out of your trip?

Missed some of my most recent posts that created great discussions among my fellow bloggers? Here is your chance to catch up:

PS. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

xoxo
Olena

 

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One Run At A Time, Or How To Avoid Toxic Thoughts

Good morning loves,

I am happy to report that I’ve learned yet another invaluable lesson during my 7 km run yesterday. But before I jump to that, here is my Week 6 training schedule of half-marathon training:

Monday – 4 miles
Tuesday – 30-40 minutes of cross training: HIIT
Wednesday – 4 miles + kettlebell toning
Thursday – 40-50 minutes of cross training: booty + cardio
Friday – rest day
Saturday – 8 miles
Sunday – rest day

*Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5*

The more I runSource

So a very interesting thing happened to me yesterday. You may or may not have read my previous post on how running makes us happy, but happiness makes us better runners. I tried my very best to be positive about the run, but it was such a struggle. Nothing hurt, but I had a full blown mental battle with myself, despite trying to keep my chin up and think happy thoughts. So what happened, you say?

I think the best way to put it is: I got caught in a web of self-doubt.

A little progress each day adds up to be resultsSource

You see, it’s been a very long time since I ran a distance of 10 km and more (apart from Week 3 and 4 of my training). My runs got much shorter since I got pregnant in fall 2014. Something happened to my bladder throughout my pregnancy and I could barely stay on a treadmill for 15-20 minutes before dashing to a ladies room. *Pregger problems! Haha!*

For some strange reason, something snapped when I saw that this week’s long run is a grand total of 8 miles. Toxic thoughts invaded my mind. I mean, I’m training for a half, so this distance is definitely not a surprise. I ran much longer distances in the past. But all of a sudden I got intimidated and mental games began. As I was running, all I kept thinking about was how am I gonna do that long run. And as many of you know, it is not a good place for any runner or any fitness enthusiast for that matter to question their own abilities.

Good news, it is reversible! *Haha!*

one day at a time, enjoy the journeySource

It is so sooooo important to focus on one workout at a time and not to get too much ahead of ourselves. Just like in our daily lives, in order to be efficient and not to get overwhelmed, we must prioritize our to-do list. First things first. The same goes for running. Not only our ‘present’ workout will be more effective, but also there is absolutely no reason why we should psych ourselves out of the challenge that lies ahead. Tackle it one day, one workout at a time.

Has ever self-doubt affected your workouts? How do you avoid psyching yourself out before a long run?

Keep moving forwardSource

Missed some of my most recent posts that created great discussions among my fellow bloggers? Here is your chance to catch up:

PS. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

xoxo
Olena

 

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How Running Makes Us Happy, But Happiness Makes Us Better Runners

You subscribe to a magazine. At first, you read it diligently from cover to cover, can’t wait for the next issue to come out. And then… something comes up and you promise yourself that you’ll read it on your lunch break or while taking a bath. A few months go by and you sadly look at the pile of unread magazines unsure of where even to begin. Has this ever happened to you? Well, that’s the #StoryOfMyLife…

magazine pileSource

This is exactly what happened to me during later stages of pregnancy: My beloved Runners World issues were sitting on a bookshelf collecting dust, feeling all forgotten. That is until a couple of days ago, when I decided to look through them in hopes of finding some invaluable advice for half-marathon training.

Speaking of which, this is what Week 5 of my training looks like:

Monday – 4 miles + arms
Tuesday – rest day
Wednesday – 4 miles + total body
Thursday – 30-40 minutes of cross training: arms, abs & cardio
Friday – 4 miles + HIIT & booty
Saturday – 30- 40 minutes of cross training: arms + yoga
Sunday – rest

*Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4*

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As I was looking through the May 2015 issue, I came across the following article: Happy Hour, Approach a run with a positive outlook to improve your performance and your health by Diane Stopyra. It caught my attention right away because I am fascinated by how our brains/minds work. So when I read that ‘Exercise doesn’t just improve happiness, happiness can improve exercise performance,’ as Alfred Bove says, M.D., Ph.D., professor emeritus of medicine at Temple University and a 26-time marathoner, I was sold.

You see, many times we run/exercise to release the stress of a bad day, when we need a little pick-me-up. Endorphines can easily lift our mode and get rid off insecurities. But from what it looks like, ‘We tend to think of being joyful as a personality trait, but it’s actually a skill you can acquire,’ according to a sociologist Christine Carter, Ph.D.

runhappySource

There are quite a few benefits to be a Happy Runner:

  1. Suffers few injuries: Since ‘happiness reverses the body’s muscle-tensing stress response’, we are less prone to injuries;
  2. Performs better: When distractions created by negative emotions are removed, we are more focused on our performance.
  3. Feels less pain:  ‘Happier people have more of the neurotransmitter dopamine coursing through their brains’, which makes it easier to tolerate discomfort, according to Jim Afremow, Ph.D.;
  4. Is healthier: It’s actually very interesting because ‘Ongoing negative emotions can provoke cellular activity that leads to illness, including cancer. Feeling joy, researchers say, reverses this process.’

If you think this got my undivided attention, YOU BET!

I came across a great presentation by social psychologist Amy Cuddy at TED Talk on how your body language shapes who you are.

https://embed-ssl.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are.html

If you have time, definitely watch it. But if you don’t, what she shows in her presentation is how “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success. She was curious whether ‘we can fake it till we make it’ and found some evidence that our non-verbals govern not only how others see us, but also how we see and feel about ourselves. So, for example, we smile when we feel happy, but also, when we’re forced to smile by holding a pen in our teeth like this, it makes us feel happy.

Tiny tweaks can indeed lead to big changes. According to Jim Afremow, Ph.D., ‘Our expressions aren’t just an indication of how we’re feeling; they help dictate those feelings. In other words, if you look happy, you’ll run happy.’

So what can we do to our face to feel happier?

  • Smile;
  • Relax your forehead, so your brows aren’t furrowed;
  • Lift your chin for an instant confidence boost.

I choose to be happySource

Runners World provides even more suggestions on how to set yourself up for a good run:

  1. Eat well, make sure that you are not low on nutrients that feed your brain like magnesium, omega-3, fatty acids, vitamin B12, iron, and vitamin D.
  2. Sleep at least 6-8 hours.
  3. Belly-breathe: Try doing yoga to learn how to breathe properly.
  4. Listen to music to distract yourself from pain and fatigue. *Read this post to see pros and cons of running with and without music.*
  5. Mantra Up: I actually like to ponder on a quote as I run, but mantras are great, especially when doing yoga!
  6. Be social and buddy up for your run!
  7. Buy a good time: sign up for a fun race or even treat yourself to a massage!
  8. Explore nature!

You make your life happySource

Do you ever fake it till you make it? What are your tricks to get yourself in a better place before your workout?

Missed some of my most recent posts that created great discussions among my fellow bloggers? Here is your chance to catch up:

PS. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

xoxo
Olena

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