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I can’t believe I’m writing this. But hey! I’ll be happy at my humbling :)

(Take this not in command form, and maybe you need to adjust it for wherever you live.)

Go camping!

I really used to struggle with our summer “vacations.” (We changed that word to “trips” pretty fast.) First, I had two young children and I wasn’t used to almost-complete life invasion all that entails. Second, my husband is into cheap vacations. No plane tickets, no hotels. It’s camping, babe, with the gas cooker, meal prep, and all.

I had friends taking “vacations” in Turkey and other exotic places.

But, no fun comparing is there.

However, 8 or 9 years into this deal, I’m becoming a “happy camper!” Hee, hee.

Go camping! It’s cheap! Kids love it! Go fairly regularly– then it’s even better! We camp several times a summer– with our Harmony group rafting trip, an annual trek to the Black Sea. Oh the memories we have!

I do well to find a café I can go to each day, now, no questions asked, no guilt. I even guilt myself sometimes– can’t you just read your Bible and think and write around the tent now? …. Then the incessancy of young ages reminds me that, no, nothing involving books, gadgets, meditating, and writing is going to happen much there. And it’s nice if there’s at least a sliver of “vacation” in the “trip.”

We’ve gradually improved our gear, too. We used to sleep in the van floor. Try that pregnant–I sure have. Then we graduated to a tent, and now we have a two-room tent and one room is entirely for my loads of bedding and pillows, and it’s nice. With six in there, it’s a bit crowded, but we might move the girls out at some point.

We bring V’s mom with us to help with cooking and baby watching sometimes. She loves vacations, too, especially by the sea. Between the three of us adults, we swing meal prep, holding a baby, and entertaining the others.

I used to hate really not enjoy too much our camping trips. But, with learning to give out, give up, and still recharge myself how I can, I’m starting to enjoy them a lot. The sea sounds are interesting. Watching the kids grow into new experiences. Trying local foods (that was really interesting when we used to go to Crimea every summer). Having water experiences we can’t have in the city.

So, what I’m saying is, sticking with it, camping is a pretty good long-term “trip” choice because it’s cheap, many-kid-friendly, repeatable, improvable, and generally all around great (for us, at least).

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In the back of my prayer journal I have a list of birthday gifts I want for my 40th birthday in December.

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Here’s what I have so far:

  1. Another baby

Well, OK that was a joke. But maybe I gotcha there, even just for a second ;)

  • A paid-for website
  • A set of very nice kitchen knives
  • A nice camera (and some photography or photoshop lessons–lots of stuff on youtube)
  • A good cake decorating set (and youtube lessons)
  • A professional photography session with Vitaliy and then our whole family

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We’re having fun planning it all and researching options.

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Skyla’s gone to camp, so we’re filling the days with 3 kids :) We spent a long while at the lovely Art Mall that’s not far from us.

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Then we made chocolate cake cupcakes with frosting.

We all love doing the frosting! Vika got the excitement all to herself!

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Of course, babies were somehow involved.

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Living in Eastern Europe, we are neighbors with many other nationalities, all with their own cuisine. We’ve come to love some Turkish and Georgian foods, like lavash and samsa, So, I’ve had a chebureki recipe printed out for a while now, and decided yesterday to finally try it.

Here’s some wiki info about chebureki:

A national dish of the Crimean Tatars and traditional for the Caucasian and Turkic peoples, it is also popular as snack and street food throughout Transcaucasia, Central Asia, Russia, Ukraine, as well as with the Crimean Tatar diasporas in Turkey and Romania.

Food reminds of us politics, and we can remember the Crimean Tartars who are being persecuted by the Russian government in Crimea.

To make Chebureki, I diced and friend onion and added ground meat.

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I made a simple dough recipe (easy to find online), and rolled it out.

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Spread on the cooked meat/onion mix:

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Then folded the dough over, and cut in into a semi-circle-shaped piece.

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Then I fried them up.

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And we ate them with mayo or sour cream.

Of course, babies were involved:

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Honestly, it’s more of an on-the-road kind of meal, not so much a sit-down meal. But they were good :) May try adding cheese in there, too, next time. Here’s a tasty version.

Skyla and two of her village friends are off to camp this week. Vitaliy picked the two girls up from the bus station (they rode in from the village) and then they just had to wait at McDonald’s with them for their camp bus to arrive a few hours later.

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So I suddenly realized that I needed to be a mom and help Skyla pack– usually the whole family is going, so the packing routine for just her kind of threw me. But! We got laundry done, packed the maybe stuff, and I bought her some little gifts to give to her counselor and friends.

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My mom used to attend Word of Life camps in the summers. Who would’ve imagined that one day her grandchild would be attending the camp in Ukraine?!?

It’s strategy, reading, and relationships.

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I’m hoping we more intentionally develop our creative, artistic family atoms in the upcoming years. Here’s a little start:

Andre displays his recent marker and paint drawings on the frig.

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Vika is using playdoh to create pancakes (with a cherry on top) and a hot dog.

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28 pancakes!

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