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.



Meal planning in a multicultural family

The constant questioning what shall we cook today, tomorrow is common and this situation might be even more complicated in multicultural families. So far we combine both Spanish and Russian dishes during the week and it allows to have a variety of meals in the diet, but this only part of the story.

I used to do random shopping with a strategy of buying the products first and then figuring out what will I make out of them. I have been throwing unused products in the trash, and leftovers due to the cultural reason: Russian people cook meals for couple days or a week (e.g. soup, meatballs,ect), while in Spain everything is prepared the same day (with an exception of some tapas). With the an arrival of our daughter I do not have time to wonder and idly think what and how.

Family menu planning for a week has a number of advantages. And it  saves time and money, as well as eliminates the daily agony of choice.

meal-planning-medium (photo:http://www.theleantimes.com)

I can proudly say I am  more organized now, but I am far from chef Angel Leon and menu planning like this though I think it would be fun at some point with my daughter:


I use these templates:In the 1st one I write the dishes I will cooke and the second one the products I need for them.



(from http://mamsworld.ru)

We also have Russian and Spanish shopping lists. You can create yours in any language at Grocery list.

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And I would say shopping and going to a market is one of the best language activities. You can use  all your senses to learn: smell fresh bread, flowers, touch a variety of textures,enjoy the colors, listen others talk and participate in a conversation. While your children are growing you can combine a food kit for your chid to increase his vocabulary, see this idea from a trilingual mama here >(food kit ).



Language update May 2014

Our daughter is 12 months and she can distinguish languages:

– she understands simple requests in both languages (come here, stop doing)

– she gives Spanish books to father and Russian books to mother when she want us to read her a story

– whenever she  hears any of our languages in the crowd she turns there and tries to engage into conversation with these people+ she feels more confident, less stranger anxiety with them

This language update is devoted to meeting my grandmother, our daughter`s great-grandmother. It was fantastic that our daughter had an instant connection from the first sight with her great-grandmother, no stranger anxiety, she was curious touching her face, listening to poems and fairy tales that granny was reading to her. We made voice and video recordings as we like to use them from time to time.

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The reunion was in Chicago, a jewel of the America`s Midwest. Here is a Google map of Lake house journey through city`s architecture (from Lake house movie) or take a boat tour. And check out  Aimee Thomson Chicago mom blog on multicultural events and places to visit with children.



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.

2.read 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.



Raising a world citizen

Apart from exposing our daughter to Russian and Spanish culture, we of course would like her to learn something particular, common in the place where she was born (e.g. surfing, volunteering) as well as other cultures of the world.

Our favorite is People book. This illustrated book is wonderful in terms of giving a global view of cultures and races. Just in one page you can see the games people play or main types of clothes,etc. 2014-04-17 00.21.13

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We ourselves are fascinated by other societies and willing to get acquainted, luckily, it is quite easy in San Francisco with so many beautiful and diverse neighborhoods.


Check out Holly`s top 12 list of way to teach a child about the world, for great ideas.

2014-04-08 09.18.40

Maps are the center piece of education. This is a map with cultural objects in Russian in the play area of our daughter.

The above map is not the only one we have in our house, another one is in our bathroom:


political map ball to play with in the house 71d19gve8YL._SL1200_

or world map balloons for international parties



It is nice to have the world map for kids to see how big, different and wonderful our planet it and it also provides a variety topics to talk with your child. As our blog focuses on food , see this cookie cutter and mold to cook and play in the kitchen:

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 12.49.18 PM

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 12.52.12 PM




I agree with a founder of new maps that it is nice to have something hand and talk and have eye to eye conversation, despite  having so many e-applications.

Have a look at this video of the Kidsmap project (for the explorers of tomorrow):

We study maps, but once in a while it is time to get a closer look. First we checked out  top 6 resources to use to plan next family vacation from Aimee Thomson who is raising world citizens in Chicago.

Our first family  trip to explore the world is to Japan. Here is a list of activities to do with kids in KyotoTokyo and Osaka.



Translating nursery rhymes

Speaking minority language in public is not always easy. People around you don`t understand you and even think you are talking about them, it takes long time saying and then translating, others might think you are weird, unsocial, etc. We do not mind and speak our languages is more important and the goal we have – raising our daughter bilingually. See Galina`s blog post on reasons why to keep on using your language in public.

So far we try to limit English language (e.g. we don`t take our daughter to library hour, speaks less English between each other). But, when we are on the street many nice strangers want to talk to our daughter, wave her, say hi or bye, at baby yoga, music or swim class all instructions are in English. Definitely, you feel the pressure to use English.On the street we translate as fast as possible to make the conversation smooth with sweet strangers. At playgrounds, baby lessons we give instructions in our language. Here I put in the table the most common nursery rhymes used in the US. I was glad to find that Carmen Ordonez also had the same issue while raising her child in the US. At reading is fundamental website you can find videos of nursery rhymes,finger plays and songs.

Song Spanish Russian
The Itsy-Bitsy spider went up the water spoutdown came the rain and washed the spider outup came the sun and dried up all the rainand the itsy bitsy spider went up the spout again  La Araña Pequeñita  Subió, subió, subióCayó la lluvia Y se la llevó Salió el solY todo lo secó Y la Araña Pequeñita Subió, subió, subió Вверх по водостоку паучок ползёт  Вдруг он вниз скатился, это дождик льёт.Cолнышко вышло и стало пригревать, И вверх по водостоку ползет паук опять.
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the king’s horses
And all the king’s menCouldn’t put Humpty together again. Humpty Dumpty se sentó en la pared. Humpty Dumpty se cayó.
Todos los caballos del rey
Y todos los siervos del reyNo pudieron a Humpty volver a pegar. Шалтай-Болтай
 Сидел на стене.
Свалился во сне.
 Вся королевская конница,
 Вся королевская рать
 Не может Шалтая,
Не может Болтая,
Шалтая-Болтая собрать!
Twinkle, twinkle, little star. How I wonder what you are. Up above the world so high, Like a diamond in the sky. Twinkle, twinkle, little star. How I wonder what you are! Brilla, brilla, estrellita.
Me pregunto que serás.
Tan alta arriba del mundo, Como un diamante en el cielo. Brilla, brilla, estrellita.
¡Me pregunto que serás! Мерцай, звездочка, мерцай!Как хочу я знать тебя! Так над миром высоко Бриллиантом в небесах Мерцай, звездочка, мерцай! Как хочу я знать тебя!
Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, Knees and Toes, Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, Knees and Toes, Eyes and Ears, and Mouth and Nose,
Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, Knees and Toes. Cabeza, hombros, rodillas y dedos, rodillas y dedos. Cabeza, hombros, rodillas y dedos, rodillas y dedos. Ojos y oídos, boca y nariz,
Cabeza, hombros, rodillas y dedos, rodillas y dedos. Голова, плечи, колени и носки (пальцы ног) колени и носки Голова, плечи, колени и носки (пальцы ног),колени и носки И глаза и уши и рот и нос, Голова, плечи, колени и носки (пальцы ног), колени и носки
Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily.
Life is but a dream. Rema, rema, rema tu bote suavemente río abajo. Alegremente, alegremente, alegremente, alegremente. La vida es como un sueño. Шлеп Шлеп веслами Лодочка плыви Вниз по речке В сказку нас неси

We use these translations only to facilitate us in the English speaking environment, while reading original poems in our native languages.

We simply loved this book ” 365 cuentos y rimas”containing a great collection of Spanish nursery rhymes (Amazon) and


Uno Dos Tres: My First Spanish Rhymes (Spanish Edition), it comes with a CD


Amazon is not available everywhere, but you can just as well save money and print on carton paper or get here:

cucu pimpon piopio

Our family frequently turns to Mother Lisa`s world, it has a vast number of rimes from around the world.

However, I would like to say English nursery rhymes were  brilliantly translated intoRussia by a wonderful children`s writer Marshak.

Original Russian nursery rhymes were written by Agniya Barto and I can surely say all Russians know the majority by heart.




Spanish Easter

Holy Week in Spain is world famous for its unique celebration. It is led by Catholic religious brotherhoods and fraternities that perform penance processions on the streets of almost every Spanish city and town during the last week of Lent, the week immediately before Easter.

Each procession is a float with sculptures symbolizing certain day and telling the Bible story, accompanied by a  small orchestra followed by a number of people in meditation and silence. The float is very heavy and is carried by a number of men that are hidden under a cloth under the platform , so it seems to walk alone. These people are chosen and consider the job of carrying an honor.


Holy Week in Andalusia it is most famous due to beautiful decorations, wide celebrations (all town is outside to watch, main streets are closed for the celebration), regional peculiarities e.g. processions are sometimes interrupted by spontaneous saetas (flamenco verses).


According to my husband Holy Week is a best outdoor theatre. The atmosphere is simple incredible, Spanish people connect with their folklore culture through this holiday, some cry, some meditate and take it serious, while others are joyful with respect.

If you are lucky you can spot Spanish actor and director Antonio Banderas singing a song to the Virgin. He is devout and takes part as a penitent in the “Lagrimas and Favores” brotherhood in his home town in Malaga (photo by Reuters).


Easter time is not only joining a family dinner , it is also a “social cooking”: women of the family get together to cook numerous Easter delights and a large almond cake . At this time of the year town bakery is open to public for free to use professional oven .

What are other dishes Spanish people eat at home ?

Torrijas (in the US they are called French toast), how to make them, click here.




Easter 2014

What did we do this Easter 2014?

Our daughter is still very young (10 months) so our activities are limited to mainly exposing her . We believe that showing her is important and some day she will say something like I saw this somewhere, I grew up with this, this is so familiar.

A wonderful  Easter craft activity for children can be vytynanki that have their origin in Ukraine (they are called paper art lace in Russia). See this video (in Russian) , I liked it especially a young girl explains you the story:

here are some beautiful examples:


and more here .

This is book is about paper art with a variety of images to make with your kids.

lace art

Mr.Printables – one of my favorite websites was our inspiration for egg sculpture( see below) as well as Juan Miro painting ” The Melancholic Singer”:

Melancholic Singer Joan Miro

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and this is Easter egg garland done by me accompanied by our daughter using  Malevich painting “Sportsmen”( see below) in hanging in our living room:

2014-04-05 14.42.59


She was very curious and I let her touch while crafting. I hope next year she will be making some herself.

And with Elisa`s help we did an Easter bunny:

you can also do an Easter basket:

We went to World market store as they  have products form around the world, click if you are interested in European traditions in the US. Here are some pretty eggs they sell:

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-played with eggs with emotion faces (I got them at local supermarket):

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-reading poems related to Easter :

2014-04-04 14.30.18

-had some Spanish almond cake (this year prepared by my mother-in-law):


– went to watch flowers,eggs and bunnies) at Macy`s flower show.




Russian Easter

Easter in Russia is perhaps the only religious holiday that somewhat celebrated even during the Soviet times. Despite Soviet propaganda, grandparents and parents passed on traditions and many Soviet children knew about such Easter traditions as coloring eggs, baking easter cake (kulich) and making Easter cottage cheese (paskha)  usually shaped as a pyramid.

On Palm Sunday in Orthodox temples during a liturgy consecration of twigs of willow take place – this is to remind about palm twigs used to greet Jesus. Twigs are widely sold in Russia and placed in a vase near icons (if a family is religious) till next “Willow Sunday”.


On Easter eve people cook and paint eggs. Usually eggs are painted on Saturday, and then on Saturday are brought to the church to consecrate. Old_Russian_Easter_Postcard

Egg is the main paschal symbol of resurrection. According to an old Russian Easter tradition – in this day people greet each other with three times kisses and with words “Christ arise!” and exchange with each other red eggs. This custom comes from old times. When Maria Magdalene came to emperor Tiberius, she brought him as a gift a red egg with salutation “Christ has arisen!” Red color ” is color of  Christ blood.


At home my family used to dye eggs with onions peel and scraps of silk. Depending on color of peel coloring of eggs vary from bright red to dark brown. If you want color to be more saturated take more peel and boil it about 30 minutes. To protect eggs from cracking during boiling add some salt and don`t use cold egg (from a fridge)  let them warm during half of hour before boiling. I came across this good post of dyeing the natural way and would like to do it also as eggs look so pretty and this is a nice activity with kids. If simply dyeing is too easy for you try this: sirma root

or leaf print eggs


Whenever we think about celebrating holiday I search out art pieces.

Here is a classical music  related to Russian Easter Festival, Overture, Rimsky-Korsakov

and some poems about  Russian Easter

Пасха в Петербурге ( И. Северянин)

Гиацинтами пахло в столовой,
Ветчиной, куличом и мадерой,
Пахло вешнею Пасхой Христовой,
Православною русскою верой.

Пахло солнцем, оконною краской
И лимоном от женского тела,
Вдохновенно-веселою Пасхой,
Что вокруг колокольно гудела.

И у памятника Николая
Перед самой Большою Морскою,
Где была из торцов мостовая,
Просмоленною пахло доскою.

Из-за вымытых к празднику стекол,
Из-за рам без песка и без ваты
Город топал, трезвонил и цокал,
Целовался, восторгом объятый.

Было сладко для чрева и духа.
Юность мчалась, цветы приколовши.
А у старцев, хотя было сухо,
Шубы, вата в ушах и галоши…

Поэтичность религии, где ты?
Где поэзии религиозность?
Все «бездельные» песни пропеты,
«Деловая» отныне серьезность…

Пусть нелепо, смешно, глуповато
Было в годы мои молодые,
Но зато было сердце объято
Тем, что свойственно только России!

Пасхальный благовест ( С. Есенин)
Понеслись удары
К синим небесам,
Звонко раздается
Голос по лесам.
Тихая долина
Отгоняет сон,
Где-то за дорогой
Замирает звон.

If you want to know more, here is a documentary talking about Russian  Easter talking about rituals and their meaning (in Russian):

(Vintage Russian Easter pictures from flickr and wikipedia.)