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.

Screen Shot 2014-12-14 at 10.17.36 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 10.35.30 AM

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 🙂

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


Screen Shot 2014-06-19 at 3.26.04 PM


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

Screen Shot 2014-06-19 at 4.31.02 PM

(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)

Happy First Birthday!!!

Our daughter had her first birthday on an island where in 1775, the Spanish naval vessel San Carlos made the first entry to the San Francisco Bay under the command of Juan de Ayala. Ayala anchored off Angel Island, and gave it its modern name (Isla de los Ángeles); the bay where he anchored is now known as Ayala Cove. It was a great opportunity for us to celebrate at this place with a historical meaning.


with a cake our international friends from Russia, Spain, Italy, Bahrain, Australia were singing Russian, Spanish and English birthday songs.


My husband and I only now realized the differences. Have a look! Russian version is quite particular and Spanish and English are very much alike.

Spanish Russian English
Feliz, feliz en tu día,
Amiguito(a) qué Dios te bendiga,
Qué reine la paz en tu día,
Y qué cumplas muchos más.Feliz, feliz en tu día,
Amiguito(a) qué Dios te bendiga,
Qué reine la paz en tu día,
Y qué cumplas muchos más. Пусть бегут неуклюже Пешеходы по лужам, А вода по асфальту рекой. И не ясно прохожим В этот день непогожий Почему я весёлый такой. А я играю на гармошке У прохожих на виду, К сожаленью, день рожденья Только раз в году. Прилетит вдруг волшебник В голубом вертолёте И бесплатно покажет кино. С днём рожденья поздравит И, наверно, оставит Мне в подарок пятьсот эскимо. А я играю на гармошке У прохожих на виду, К сожаленью, день рожденья Только раз в году. К сожаленью, день рожденья Только раз в году. Happy Birthday to You
Happy Birthday to You
Happy Birthday Dear (name)
Happy Birthday to You.From good friends and true,
From old friends and new,
May good luck go with you,
And happiness too.Alternative ending:
How old are you?
How old are you?
How old, How old
How old are you?
English translation
Be happy, happy on your day,
Friend, may God bless you,
May peace reign on your day,
And may you celebrate many more.Be happy, happy on your day,
Friend, may God bless you,
May peace reign on your day,
And may you celebrate many more. Let pedestrians run clumsily over puddles, and water run as a river on the asphalt. And it is not clear to passers this gloomy day Why am I so cheerful. I play the harmonica as passers pass by, unfortunately, birthday`s only once a year. Suddenly magician will arrive in blue helicopter and show free movies, say Happy birthday and probably leave me a gift of five hundred ice cream popsicle.

Having fun with fruits and veggies

What can be added to narration of minority language to make it fun and increase vocabulary and increase critical thinking skills, imagination,improve memory in children and, perhaps, add humor.

A riddle!

To help children learn about riddles, this concept can be introduced : “a riddle is a question that turns into a joke. It starts with a puzzling question and ends with an answer that surprises you and usually makes you laugh. The answer to the riddle is called the punch line. The question and answer make a riddle when the same words have two different meanings.”(Zipke, M. (2008). Teaching Metalinguistic Awareness and Reading Comprehension With Riddles. The Reading Teacher, 62(2), 128–137.)

Even if the child does not speak much yet or there is a speech delay or child is avoiding using your language, riddles can be a way to motivate and provide opportunities for communication.

Below there are some examples. Personally, I don`t intend to memorize everything, it is helping me to talk to my child while enjoy cooking and talking our native languages to our child. 


  Много одежек И все – без застежек. Кто его раздевает, Тот слезы проливает. (Лук).

  Pelo verde, barba roja, se deshoja y comienza tu congoja. ( la cebolla).

 When I am alive I do not speak. Anyone who wants to takes me captive and cuts off my head. 
 They bite my bare body  I do no harm to anyone unless they cut me first. Then I soon make them cry.


  И чернил он не видал, Фиолетовым вдруг стал. И блестит весь от похвал Очень важный …(баклажан).

translation: Turned purple without ink, shiny and very important.

  Una señorita va por el mercado con su cola verde y el traje morado.( la berenjena).

translation: a girl goes to a market with her green braid and purple dress.


There are also many poems that can be incorporated while cooking or eating. Here is an example in Spanish:

  Qué ricas las frutas que voy a comer, si tu me acompañas contento estaré.

  Qué rica naranja que calma mi sed, la piña, manzana y mango también.

  Comamos las frutas que nos hacen bien, el plátano crudo o frito tal vez.

  La pera, el durazno las uvas también, el higo y papaya qué ricas se ven.

  Qué ricas las frutas que voy a comer.


What tasty fruits will I eat, if you accompany I’ll be happy.

How tasty is the orange that satisfies my thirst, pineapple, apple and mango too.

Eat fruits that make us healthy, raw or fried plantain sometimes.

Pear, grapes peach also, fig and papaya are looking tasty.

What tasty fruits will I eat.

cabbage corn


So far I am a bit skeptical about flash cards, as I believe you need to show real objects.

However, I found nice real-like prints, at the back I have riddles.

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What can be done:

1. place card reverse side (with text) and have real fruits and vegetables near-by. Reply a riddle by matching card to fruit, check for picture at the back. a riddle aloud to your child and let him try to guess what is that.

3. Cook these  rainbow gummy sweets


and say the ingredients during preparation, guess taste with eyes closed (in this case make 1  flavor sweet).

When cooking you can use this fun Spanish poem as a structure and this way your child also learns why it is good to eat fruits and vegetables:

 En casa de mi abuela 
aprendí a preparar
 una rica ensalada
 que te voy a invitar. Mezclo lechuga, cebolla
y pepino     también, 
luego un rojo tomate
que seleccioné bien. 
Añado zanahoria
para la visión, 
eso lo aprendí
viendo televisión.

 Un chorrito de aceite
con jugo de limón
que dicen es bueno 
para la digestión; 
una pizca de pimienta
otra pizca de sal 
y   con esta ensalada
no tengo rival.

 Muchos vegetales
me voy a comer, 
porque fuerte y sano
yo quiero crecer. 
Ahora me quito
y cuelgo
el delantal
porque   este gran verso
llegó al final.

translation :

At my grandmother’s house I learned to prepare 
a tasty salad  and I’m going to invite you. Mix lettuce, onion and cucumber 
too, then a red tomato 
that I have selected well. I add carrots for vision, 
this I learned while watching TV. A little oil with lemon juice they say it is good for digestion; a pinch of pepper , another pinch of salt and this salad is out of competition. I’m eating many vegetables
, because I want to grow
 strong and healthy. Now I take off and hang up an apron because this great verse has reached its end.

For more just visit this collection of riddle in Spanish for all sorts of topics or Russian.

Discovering Japan

We are back!!!! We simply loved our vacation as Japan is the destination for a family trip, friendly people, majority of attractions are outdoors, convenient travel all the way in subway (with elevator everywhere), bus or train.

Stay for at least a few days at a Japanese inn (ryokan), it is worth it being in another atmosphere and if you have small children, they will appreciate it too as they will be able to crawl/walk every where with bare foot.


Try a numerous type of sweets that vary in texture, smell and fillings.

It is useful to have a guidebook as little information is provided in other languages at the places of interest.


Take away for our family after this trip:

Beauty can be found in simple things



Ikebana, creative ikebana


Simplicity is necessary for harmony


We are part of nature


Meditation is good for you

Politeness is an important trait

Traditions are needed and are to be kept

Your atmosphere impacts you, surround yourself with people and things that make you feel well

Continue to explore Zen practice

Our fave Zen books:

Zen in the Martial Arts



Momma Zen:Walking Crooked Motherhood


Once in Japan, we made friends along the way, despite not knowing Japanese we communicated with adults in children, playing Japanese peekaboo :  Inai, Inai, Ba!  (Inai can be translated as “without existence”), here are a few pictures of our acquaintances:

jg2 jpfr jp67 jg98 j98 271-IMG_9871 IMG_3138


If you also plan to visit Japan:

2014-04-25 09.38.31


check out this fantastic ” Walking on travels” blog post on Osaka and Kyoto by Seattle mom who encourages parents to travel and discover new places with children.