Cooking essentials list and our basic rules in the kitchen

The kitchen is always an adventurous place for kids even though they might not interested in cooking process. Just think from the child`s perspective: there is a huge number of cabinets and shelves that are filled with jars, lids and pans. There is always something exciting to play with and make a big noise. Some moms wonder when to start? I started early.. around 7 months our daughter was always in the kitchen with me.

Actually I learned to cook helping my mother when I was little. She encouraged me to see the process and participate. Her main motivation was to teach me a valuable skill quickly as she was working very hard and wished cooking ability was mastered by me. Anyway these were happy moments in the family as we were cutting veggies for salads and rolling dough.

Now I have my own family and the best time is when 3 of us get together to add sugar and spice to our dishes. My husband is a great cook and that is a great influence for our growing child.

As you can imagine our daughter is super curious and loves to be around in the kitchen and dining room. We have kitchen helper and it is really helpful to prepare dishes and interact with child using this wooden structure. In the beginning (and still now) we learn about structure and consistency. I place vegetables in front of her while I am busy cook, I comment when she is exploring or washing them. When she is in a mood we play with buckwheat, beans or pasta. Now we learn to lay the table and clean up. Our next challenge is making a salad. Hopefully when she is around 2 year she has more coordination and little bit more patience:) we can make more things like pinchos or even bake pryaniki.

2014-06-18 16.10.23 And I thought of coming up with a this list has items that are:

-easy to use and durable

-can be both used by adults and children

-promote motor skills

When we cook we consider sticking to these rules (we might adjust or change as our child grows):

1. Clean the space and hands first, no distractions and unnecessary items

2. Before cooking kids need to know hot/cold and we show first show  how, then we do together- no rush

3.Kids ask permission of adults to do some things like working with stove, if they are too small, it is our responsibility to keep things safe

4. Handle of pots and pans are not sticking out over the edge of the stove top

5.We hold vegetable on the stable surface, never in the air and peel away from ourselves

6. We thank each other for help and sharing a meal

At our home we use visual bilingual dictionary (Russian-Spanish), it is colorful and simple: 20141217_183225

We also like these vintage flashcards (English) from Mr.Printables to learn kitchen vocabulary

Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 5.59.48 PM and this fun video in Spanish :

(Photo credit:;;

Personalized books in our trilingual family

Learning several languages might be challenging, no matter how old are you. Babies first learn to see, then grab and point, later name items. In order to help our daughter learn, I made personalized ABC and emotions book, we made pics with the objects surrounding our child and her favorite activities. It is a learning tool as well as great memory. Perhaps when she grows older we can do travel ABC with her, by using some family photos 🙂

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This family was an inspiration to make our feelings and emotions book.

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ours is more simple, but planning to make a family one soon: Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 3.45.06 PM

Bilingual families are using picture books without text to teach languages, I have mentioned the most famous ones (wimmelbuch), we have created our own: Screen Shot 2014-12-27 at 8.17.55 PM

My mother once brought strange pictures and introduced me to illusion in art. I made one for our daughter so she is amused by the riddle of art and probably learn something about prominent people from our countries. Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 9.37.36 PM




Language update December 2014

Ada is not saying new words, there is a small progress, she pronounces the first syllables of some words and repeats some words in Russian like deti-kids, kukla- doll).Sometimes we like to speak to her at the same time in Spanish and Russian and we can clearly see by observations which words she understands in which language.

She understands both Spanish and Russian pretty well. Unfortunately our Spanish nanny is not longer with us and now we have a Russian caregiver twice a week.

In order to help our daughter make friends that are passionate about languages and communicate in our heritage languages, we started a “Multilingual families” meetup. 10849732_254891878017676_6935833778293734426_n

It was lovely to get together and share some ideas in raising kids bilingually as well as spend time with little ones.



Many of us are are using Skype to learn languages and stay in touch with our families and friends that are far away. We bought dropcam. This technology allows us to view our daughter during the day and with its help her father can also talk to us.

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So far with couple times that we tried, she has reacted positively to a voice without a physical presence, hopefully (with practice) later we can chat. Perhaps it can be a great solution with older kids.

Driving coast to coast with a toddler and no iPad

A long time dream came true!!!! We made a road trip from West to East coast in the US. It is not problematic to do it as a couple and I would say pretty easy. Having a child on board, especially a toddler of 16 months, requires adjustments to be made.

Our route (mostly highway 10): San Francisco, Los Angeles, Austin, Phoenix, Tucson, Houston, New Orleans, Tampa, St.Petersburg, Miami Beach with a final destination Key West.

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We considered the sleeping routine of our daughter, meaning most of the driving took place when she was sleeping. Yes, it was challenging in the beginning as there are lights everywhere(!!), we used sunshade to cover her and parked in shadow. Check your car seat if it has a reclining position, you might make a car seat drive more comfortable for your child.

We looked up pitstops for kids near to highways, there are many playgrounds spots, but even if you don`t find any, just keep an eye on fast food outdoor spots, some offer nice spaces for your toddler to stretch.

No iPad or other electronic device/toy was used to entertain our daughter during this road trip. We are proud to have done it. I am sure many one you have read the famous post about S. Jobs banning this from his kids.

She has plenty of time with iPad during her chats with family and then in time she will gradually learn how to use it.Our kid has plenty of time with iPad during her chats with family and then in time she will gradually learn how to use it.

So far we like to be low-tech parents and after this this trip I learned that at this stage our child does not really need any electronic toys and there are thousands of ways to make her smile and keep her busy.

All sorts of toys were used and many made along the way: feathers, ribbons, water bottles (with anything to make noise, or try shampoo) flowers/leaves we picked along the way, baby wipes, paper cups and plates, cloth pins, straws (you can fins all colors in the restaurants), turn magazine into a picture book, shaving foam, flashcards. All this free toys you can find on your way, just be imaginative!!

We only bought: memory game, aqua doodle, finger puppets (bear speaks Spanish, elk- English, Snowman-Russian), play doh,pom poms, we love singing together we already have a collection of CDs in the car (sing-a-long and educational). Check out this huge list of non- electronic entertainment for children.

Do ask for kids entertainment when you dine, almost all places have crayons and puzzles, we were also lucky we got free toys from hotel managers:)
As we were driving we looked up children’s museums across the country  and we made stops of 3-4 hours to enjoy the places.
As we were driving we looked at the map of any other attractions (museums
and even water fountains).We also practiced some yoga- touching nose with feet, lotus pose.
(photo credit: Agueda Sanfiz)
A big issue was food as sometimes there were no places to buy food that we liked. and our daughter started teething and became a bit picky. We modified our restaurant orders to fit her tastes. In restaurants we try to pick booth seats as our child does not seat in any baby chairs, order dishes one by one, choose restaurants with playground or garden.
We made it!!! We hope our experience will encourage you to travel more.

What do we want our child to know when cooking in the kitchen before she leaves home

My mother told me the only available book for her as a parent was Dr. Spock`s childcare. Somehow I was reading other books to prepare for pregnancy as well as child`s education and care. However, I can say some of my mother`s parenting methods very close to Montessori. For example, self-independence, motor skills encouragement (cleaning and cooking) was a priority.

I learned to cook quite fast by watching. When my mother was away on a trip or night-shift I had to cook myself, I do recall cooking meat balls and pasta as a 8 year old without anyones help. Apart from being given opportunities to practice, family traditions of cooking salads, pelmeni, pies helped me grow fond of cooking.  Now I am very happy to share this passion with my husband.


As our daughter is growing, I am thinking what is that I would like her to know in the kitchen based on my experience and inspired by Anne Postic `s blog) :

Know what`s your cooking style type (the make-ahead master, the enthusiastic entertainer,the short order cook, the efficiency expert or the healthy chef)

Brush up know knowledge how to cook the basic (eggs,chicken, etc)

Remember table manners, say “Thank you” to everyone who cooked for you and comment positively

Periodically prepare and share typical meals from your cultural background. Cook the dishes we prepare as a family (paella,borsh, gazpacho,oladyi, ect) this will bring out good memories and give you energy Periodically prepare and share typical meals from your cultural background.

Remember the presentation of food is as important as how it tastes. You can turn a simple dish into an art piece just by using  grater and vegetable peeler (photo


Remember a sause has a great flavor power

Know reasonable saving/substitutes of supplies e.g. olive oil for grape seed oil, butter for  avocado, it is not always necessary to cook dessert- get meringues (photo credit: Sarah Olson)


When expecting guests first lay your table then cook and save time to clean the kitchen before people arrive to your house

Food enjoyment should be social

Keep your kitchen clean and organized and Have an amazing time !!

Language update October 2014

A  lot of news to tell. Our daughter is saying “mother” in Russian, “father” in Spanish and “hi, bye” in English.
Sometimes she confuses and says “mami” in Spanish and greets me in English, we paraphrase and greet her in our heritage languages.

We continue Simultaneous Acquisition (raising in two languages from birth), and  it is fun to see how she knows some words in only Russian (e.g.nose) or Spanish (, ears); e.g. you would speak to her in Spanish about the nose and she would have a confused face, when spoken in Russian she points at everyones nose around, but when it comes to ears and hair, its the other way around.

A recent two week trip to Spain was also beneficial in terms of culture immersion, so far we can only suppose it`ll brings positive results further on as well as weekly Skype with grandparents. To read more about passive heritage language learning visit trilingual children blog.

Now our daughter is older, she started her Spanish class for toddlers which is quite good, there kids sing-a-long, dance, paint, etc. We found a similar Russian class, we will join the group very soon. Our family tries our best to work on her passive vocabulary by talking and explaining objects. We are aware that we as parents teach different vocabulary, the down side is that there is not much consistency/repetition which could lead to better results. Our apartment has turned into a poster-like apartment few months ago, we have ABCs and pictures of objects all over the place.


IMAG0029  I was also happy to find images for bilingual families:

Screen Shot 2014-10-04 at 10.15.26 PM (photo credit:

Books where pictures cover 90% of the page have a huge success and keep our daughter interested in reading. We take it quite serious the selection of books as by looking at images we filled the brain of our child. The pictures have to be beautiful,have vivid characters and sophisticated ideas. Here are some of our favorites:

This ABC by J.Brodsky and illustrated by I.Oleinikov

Screen Shot 2014-10-05 at 7.24.50 PM series 1001 things for look for

IMAG0033-1 De la A a la Z con Don Quijote


Classical picture books from Peter Spier, Anna Suess and Susanne Berner are also great.
Screen Shot 2014-10-04 at 10.43.30 PM
And many of the books keep our brains active  and we learn sometimes new vocabulary too 🙂

Discovering Rome

Rome is a great place: beautiful and interesting city ! It is impossible to remain indifferent. This is a place where the development of civilization took place and it is a must to see!!

Take away from our family after this trip:

Surround yourself with beautiful things























Cooking from scratch and fresh ingredients matter












We have rediscovered pizza.It is a pleasure to watch when it is done by professionals Screen Shot 2014-09-20 at 5.56.32 PM

But is a good dish to cook together, we love that you can`t go wrong with ingredients and you can put what you like disregarding your food restrictions.



Stop and relax to have your favorite drink in a cafe

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re-Read foreign books

One of the most famous tale from Italy is Pinocchio that is quite popular in Spain and Russia.

There is a funny Spanish song for children about this character:

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(photo credit:

In Russian adaptation book and movie this wooden toy is called Buratino (ital. burattino — wooden puppet)
Screen Shot 2014-09-21 at 2.05.08 PM (photo credit: wikipedia)

As for English there is good guide for kids ” This is Rome”

Screen Shot 2014-09-25 at 6.07.48 PM

Spanish food market

Market is unique place to learn a language. Arriving to Spain without knowing the language was challenging, but learning along market stalls was a very delicious language learning experience 🙂 I learnt all simple fruits and vegetable and simple tapas names by trying.

After getting married to my Spanish husband, I immersed more in culture. My mother-in-law took me with her several times to the market. It was extremely useful to  about the products as most of the time you are amazed by the variety and the essential-how to choose well.

There is a large number of food markets in Spain, the large ones are in Cadiz, MadridBarcelona.




In Spain you not only buy food, but try and eat it. You will be served a glass of beer and you will eventually have a conversation with someone next to you.


see yourself how many of the dishes are cooked


and also try tons of sweets

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With our daughter we buy groceries in many places,including farmer`s market, it is easy when you can take in your hand an object, explore its texture, name it and taste it. Every time is an opportunity to learn!! When you travel check out the world great market. If you are also passionate about photography check out this website for tips to take pictures in the market.

Top 5 Family Traditions for Multilingual Families

Our family just started multilingual journey, however, we are constantly thinking how to incorporate languages into our family routine, make it a pleasant time for everyone so speaking another language is enjoyable and natural.

Here are our top 5 family traditions for multilingual families:

1. make a quote book of your kids while they learn languages. Children always invent their own language, mix languages in the own fun and unusual way, invent their own words,etc. My mother used to recall many of my languages expressions even when I was already an adult and we laughed. Or maybe your kids will write stories/poems in different languages that would be also great to save.

Or perhaps while watching cartoons/movies you will find some fun language to save and make jokes. For Soviet kids many cartoon quotes drifted into conversation, our family liked using many:

(“I have a thought and I am thinking it” )(photo

or  if your children are over 10 you can make idioms book in your language. There are many ways:

– if you have pets or choose a particular object and  find all language expressions with them  and make drawings, pictures to explain these idioms

here is a cute album with Spanish expressions with cats


“Somos cuatro gatos” (Literal translation: We are four cats.What it actually means: It’s a small group of people)


9780439783460_default_pdp cat_idioms


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2. make quality get together time to discuss in your language best of the day/week/month over tea/kefir/wine, etc

3. choose books/songs for each other to read in your language. we like to read and sing karaoke

4. make personalized ABC book of your daily life/trips

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(photo credit:

our daughter`s first book is in three languages:


5. make a year in review (or holiday journal review) using your language:


(make notes during family time or mark in your calendars the most important events)

Eat the Rainbow

As our daughter grows we teach her colors, one of the best ways is to use a rainbow.

Spanish Russian English
Rojo красный Red
Naranjo оранжевый Orange
Amarillo жёлтый Yellow
Verde зелёный Green
Azul голубой Blue
Añil синий Indigo
Violeta фиолетовый Violet



Mnemonics is always helpful to learn many things, including rainbow colors:

Spanish Russian English
Rodolfo Narizotas Amó de Verdad a Azucena el o que la Vió Каждый Охотник Желает Знать Где Сидит Фазан (lit: each hunter wants to know where pheasant sits) Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain

Screen Shot 2014-07-07 at 11.01.34 AM

or you can also use songs/nursery rhymes:

Spanish Russian English
Un arco iris de energía 
Por dejar el mundo lleno de 
Si esta feo o dividido 
Va a quedar tan colorido 
Lo que vale en esta vida es ser feliz 

Con azul voy a lograr 
El naranja es buen color para 
Con el verde tengo la esperanza 
Que existe en esta tierra mansa 
De pintar el cielo entero 
color amor 

El amarillo usa brillo, es especial, 
Hecho sol tiene su lugar 
Entre toda la gente 
Violeta es más que una flor 
Que va a perfumar, 
Rojo intenso y a completar 
Mi arco iris de amor 
El color para mí 
Es la magía que todo ilumina 
El color para mí 
És la fiesta que nunca termina Arco Iris (by Michael Sullivan, Paulo Massadas, Ana Penido ) Радуга-дуга,Не давай дождя, Давай солнышка,
Колоколнышка! Чтобы деткам погулять, Чтоб теляткам поскакать, Нужно солнышко,
Колоколнышко! Red and yellow and pink and green, Purple and orange and blue,
 I can sing a rainbow, 
Sing a rainbow, 
Sing a rainbow too!Listen to your heart,
 Listen to your heart,
And sing everything you feel,
 I can sing a rainbow, 
Sing a rainbow,
Sing a rainbow too
English translation

I will paint a rainbow filled with energy
It will arch in the big sky for all to see 
If we’re seperate or divided
We’ll have colors to unite us
 We can blend into a perfect harmony 

When I paint with blue, i get tranquillity 
I spread orange for friendships across the sea
With the deepest green we find the answers
T o the questions that children ask us 
So together we can be one color

Yellow so bright, it became the sun
 Violet, dark and beautiful 
All the colors are in a rainbow 
Red, so intense, very mystical
Purple glows, very magical
it’s complete, it’s a rainbow of love 

All the colors we need
 So we make up a rainbow of people
 All the colors indeed
 And we make up a rainbow of people Rainbow arc, Do not let rain,Give sunFor kids to walk and Calves to jump Sun is necessary!

However with food you can teach your children everyday all the rainbow colors, mentioning how healthy it is and it also helps to help with children who picky eaters (so says Jessica Alba in her interview):


and create a rainbow menu: Menu Planner

Cooking together dishes from what grows in your heritage country.

Here are a few rainbow-inspired dishes that are culture-related to Spain and Russia, all of them are really fast to make (less than 30 min) :

Russia is famous for borsch where beetroot is the main ingredient. It takes quite some time to cook it, but Roasted beet hummus is faster to do:


Another Russian popular dish, but perhaps not well-known is okroshka, you can cook it with or without beets. At home we like to make both versions.


Spain is famous for tapas. One of its types is pincho, basically its a small snack on a toothpick or a skewer.

Use  your imagination to make veggie 


or fruit skewers:


or refreshing rainbow sangria:


Just go out to your nearest market and you can combine a rainbow in your kitchen, have a look at Emily Blincoe pics: Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 1.21.10 PM


Our daughter is only 12 months and so far she is only  learning colors as well as cooking by observation:

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Part of my family is Azeri and my mom and granny made stuffed tomatoes,peppers and eggplants. I just added more veggies for the decoration:

Filling= onion+garlic+ground beef+tomato sauce

Decorations=red+yellow+orange bell peppers, broccoli

Suggested Decorations(use your imagination to add more)=  red/green/yellow bell pepper, white/purple cauliflower purple potatoes, green/yellow zucchini,broccoli, red onion,red/yellow cherri tomatoes, parsley/dill

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While creating delicious bites for the family you can go over lots of vocabulary of how tasty, sweet, sour, chewy, crispy, creamy, greasy (ect) and how messy the kitchen turns out to be in the process 🙂 while you connect with your heritage culture via food and language naturally being involved in the process of family cooking.