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Sunday, January 7, 2018

Meet Yelena & Her Nest

     Although social media gets such a bad rap in today's day and age, I'm actually grateful to be living in the age of technology. As a young stay-at-home mom, it can get pretty lonely talking to toddlers for the most part of my day (= but there aren't always opportunities to get out of the house and meet up with fellow mommy friends. Besides trying to work around meal times and nap times (because no one wants to deal with a hungry and tired toddler) there are also days where one of my 3 isn't feeling well, or a friend's little one isn't feeling well, or our schedule doesn't line up. 
     Anyway, you get the story. That's one big reason I'm really thankful for Facebook and Instagram (Check at the bottom for Yelena's & my social media info). Another reason is that I have come to read so many great stories from fellow mama's who have gone through what I'm going through. This alone brings me so much comfort! knowing someone else has been in my shoes and survived! haha. One such beautiful soul is my friend of 7, Yelena (= She is a fellow blogger and everything-natural-enthusiast. She loves a good DIY project & shares a lot of her work on her blog, which you can check here. Although we have never met, I feel like I know her so well just based on our facebook conversations. 
     I've never done this kind of a post before, but I thought it would be fun to do an 'interview' style (= I know you will feel encouraged by her wisdom (=

- Yelena, tell us a little about yourself. Where were you born, and how many siblings did you have growing up?

I was born in Tiraspol, Moldova and am the oldest of 6 children. I have 1 sister and 4 brothers. One of my brothers was adopted when he was a few days old.  His mom, my mother's aunt, died from childbirth complications and my parents adopted him.

- I didn't know you had an adopted brother! The situation is sad but how loving of your parents to step in and take him in. Coming from a large (by today's standard) family yourself, would you say you enjoyed being part of many children? 

Looking back now,  yes, I enjoyed it. I may have complained here and there about having to share a room or not getting brand name stuff, but in general, I was happy. My siblings and I didn't always get along, but we remained friends and still are.

- What were some drawbacks you noticed about having many siblings? What were some blessings? 

My parents couldn't afford luxuries and as a child, we hated that we couldn't have the same cool clothes and stylish backpacks and school supplies as our peers. But now, looking back, it may have been a blessing because those things aren't important and it taught us the value of money.

- It's interesting to look back and see the lessons God has taught us through times that might have been difficult for us as children. How old were you when you moved to the states & what brought your family here? 

I was 10.5 years old. Being Christian, my family was ridiculed and persecuted. We were picked on in school by students and teachers alike. My father would randomly not get paid at work, and well, having 6 children to feed, that was not acceptable.  One of my father's brothers moved to the US and eventually was able to bring all 12 of his siblings and his parents to the US. He said it was a free country and we would do well here. And we have!

- Growing up, did you ever think ahead to your future marriage years & see yourself with this many children of your own? 

I did! I wanted to get married and have 10 children of my own.. though I'm not sure why because I wasn't great with kids and most babies cried in my arms! I actually remember when I got pregnant for the first time, I was scared because I thought my own baby would hate me. It's a good thing babies have a built-in sense to love their mothers hehe.

- It really is! I've thought that many times myself haha 
What would you say is the biggest blessing about having so many children? 

All the happiness that abounds here and reliving things through their eyes. The joy and wonder of looking at things with a new perspective. And all the free cuddle and kisses and I get are a nice perk!

 - What would you say is the biggest struggle about a large family? 

My biggest struggle is having one on one time with my children.  I start seeing the results when they start acting out or fighting amongst each other.  I try to squeeze in some one on one, but it can be difficult when they all want attention at the same time.

- You homeschool all of your children. Did you homeschool from the very start & what led you to homeschool? 

Like all couples, when my husband and I were dating, we talked about our pasts, dreams, and goals. Having a large family and homeschooling was both of our dreams. Neither of us liked the education we received in public school so we started homeschooling from day one. There have been a few moments when we thought about sending our children to school, but every time we sat down to talk about it, it just never seemed right. So we continue to homeschool.

- What is your advice for other parents when it comes to homeschooling so many different aged children? 

Don't get caught up in what everyone else is doing. Do what works for you and your children. If something isn't working, try something else. Children aren't one size fits all.

Your children do not need to have a curriculum until they are in 1st grade, unless they are truly interested in it. Until then, read to your children. Play with your children.  Let them help you in the kitchen. Let them help you do chores. And while you're doing those things, you teach them colors, numbers, shapes, letters, words, manners, etc.

When you start with a curriculum,  don't stop playing and reading with them. It's so important to have a relationship with our children. Without it, all the education in the world won't matter.

And most importantly teach them the Word of God. Teach them to follow Christ. All else will come together as He designed it.

And last, but not least, I recently learned that there are many subjects that can be taught together as a group.

- For the last 2 years, I prepared "preschool" stuff for my oldest. And each year it lasted about 1.5-2 months. I've come to learn exactly what you said, reading & having them help with my daily routine/chores is the best schooling for now (=
What is 1 piece of advice or encouragement you would give a woman pregnant with her first child? 

You can't spoil a baby by taking care of their needs right away.

- So true! 1000% agree. What words of encouragement would you tell a couple who see the blessings and joy of having a large family, but are scared of all the work and energy it will take?

It's all worth it. It's not going to be easy. Some days I question my sanity wanting this many children, but good things don't happen without a little, or sometimes a lot, of hard work. I don't know any mother of a large family who regrets it. 

- Who would you say is your biggest role model when it comes to motherhood? 

My grandmother. She was such a wise and kind woman. She was a mother of 13 children and had such love and patience!! Unfortunately, when I was 16 years old she had a stroke. She became paralyzed and lost her ability to speak. When introducing my husband to her, I sought her approval and though she couldn't speak, I saw it in her eyes and face. I would have loved to pick her brain about so many things. God, marriage, children, herbs and natural methods. As a child, I remember her teaching me about various herbs and talking about Jesus and His love for us. Sadly, she passed away 3 years ago and we all truly miss her. She was such a light in this dark world.

- That is so beautiful! 
How do you prevent/diffuse sibling rivalry? 

So far the best thing that has worked is redirecting, but I feel like the older they get the less it works. But at least the older they get, the more I can talk them through it. 

- Having so many people living in one house & spending so much time together, what have you noticed help your children get along? 

Getting everyone involved in the same activity, but sometimes some time away from each other helps too. We all need a little 'me time' once in a while to recharge.

- What is your family's favorite meal/dish? 

Probably pelmeni (Russian meat dumplings)... it's a good thing there are plenty of hands to make them lol.

- That's one of our family's favorites also, but we don't have quite enough hands just yet (;
What's one thing that's different about you now with seven children than back when you had just 1? 

I would say I have a lot more patience now.. there are several things my children do now that I'm "immune" to, but would lose my temper over back then. It's true what they say, "Having children teaches you patience."

- I think even with 3 I have gotten this immunity to certain things already (=
Whats one thing that upsets you the most about today's society's view of children? Especially the negative view of those who want to or already have a family of more than 1-2 children? 

Some people seem to see children as a burden. A burden on parents, on society, financially, and sadly, for some, on their freedom. When the reality is, they become a burden if the parents don't raise them. So even an only child could become a burden on the parents and society if no one teaches them how to live and behave. And as far as being a  financial burden, children are as expensive as you make them. They don't need all the bells and whistles and half of Toys R Us. They need you. Having said that, our grocery budget gets bigger every year as the children head into the teen years.. it's a good thing my husband hunts!

- I bet the hunting is really helpful, and probably healthier meat than store bought! 
How do you handle rude comments from strangers on the size of your family? (How do you reply to them, and if you don't reply at all how do you handle it inside yourself?) 

I try to respond with kindness. You never know why they are so afraid of large families.  Though sometimes I wish I could reply with sarcasm lol.

- What's one of the best comments you've gotten from strangers when out with your whole family? 

"You are so blessed! I couldn't help but watch you with your children.. so beautiful! May I give you a hug?"

And this one isn't from a stranger, but still made me feel good: "At first when my husband said you'd be spending the weekend at our house, I panicked and thought it would be loud and chaotic. I was so wrong! Your children are so well behaved and helpful, you are welcome to stay here anytime!"

- What's one of the rudest comments you've gotten from a stranger?

"You know how to stop that from happening, right?" After happily telling a coworker I was expecting baby #6. It was so unexpected and such a shock, I wasn't sure how to respond. I simply said, "Yes," and smiled at her awkwardly.

- What are some traits you really strive to instill in your children & hope they will work out as they get older? 

Being humble and kind. Often times I feel like I'm failing, but then there are days when they are so kind to each other and to others.

Thank you, Olesya, for thinking of me for your interview. Some of these questions really made me think hard and some brought out some great memories. God bless you and your family!

If you want to stay updated from Yelena, you can follow her
Instagram: yelenas.nest.mama.chickadee 
Facebook: yelenasnest
Pinterest: yelenasnest
Blog: yelenasnest

You can also find me on:
Instagram: @tsytsyn.tribe
Pinterest: Alesia Tsytsyn

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