Great people I admire and of whom I want my children to know: Natalya Yampolsky

What does Natalya Yampolsky and New York have in common, apart from their initials? Just like art meets business in NYC, creativity meets professionalism in Natalya’s studio.

I first heard about this talented Russian artist from Atlanta ( when I was looking for a web designer. A friend recommended Natalya.  I saw her portfolio and I instantly fell in love with her art.  I knew she was the right person to design my writing website. She is the right person to design anything! Her imagination and versatility have no limits. Her art is warm, intimate and as elaborate as Belgian lace. You can basically feel the texture of every drawing and painting without touching it. And don’t let me get started on her claymation, “Music of My Soul”. Touching and inspiring.

When I started working with Natalya on a book (yes, she also does illustrations), I discovered that next to the ultra-artistic side, she is also utterly professional.  She is knowledgeable, competent and full of great advice. She is my artistic guru.

I’m glad my children are going to meet her soon. She will be in CA in a few weeks. I hope her talent is somehow contagious and will spread upon my boys:-)

Natalya has a lot in common with NY, but there are some differences between the two as well.  Firstly, New York’s reputation is already established and Natalya’s greatness is still unfolding.  Secondly, unlike the tireless Big Apple, Natalya has to sleep sometimes.

A propos, it’s already 11.05 pm. Have a good night!


To Be a Geek or Not to Be

The other day my son heard someone use a word geek and asked me what it meant. I told him it that a geek is a person who likes working on the computer a lot. “Mommy, then you are a geek,” my son concluded.

Well, I’m not. In many ways, I wish I were a geek. This blog would look much sleeker then and I would get more traffic on my website. Perhaps I would even have a fancy Facebook account. But, no. Calling me a geek offends any real geeks. I must admit, though, my son gets to see me use the computer on a regular basis. What he doesn’t know is that sometimes I write this blog on the computer, sometimes I pay bills and some other time I check the news. In his eyes, I’m a geek.

I find his observation both funny and sad. I know that computers are a part of our lives these days and I’m happy to use them.  I love all the things I can do with just one laptop. But I still, don’t want to be viewed as a parent who is so connected with the whole wide world, that is actually… disconnected.

I shared my dilemma with a friend. According to her,  it’s good for our children to see us work. It’s a good example for them. I fully agree. But at the same time I think that working on the computer is misleading for children. All they know is that  computers can be used for playing games and watching movies. Don’t they think that this is what the parents use their computers for? Doesn’t it promote recreational screen time?

I’m genuinely curious what you think.  Perhaps my non-geek theory is too far-fetched, over-analyzed and from the 20th century?

Blame it on the weather

I always knew I was allergic to winter, but what I have recently discovered is that summer is not my thing either. I love the sunny 70’s , but a little heat wave can make me not only hot but also hot-tempered. I become slow, slow-witted, under-slept and over-caffeinated. I have zero tolerance for slightest imperfections and inconveniences. Ironically, those come in bunches when the temperatures hit 90’s. For example, last week I got to wait at the doctor’s office for an hour just to hear that I would have to reschedule after all. Or I would bring the boys to a park with sprinklers just to see that they are off on Tuesdays. Not cool. Just as not cool as my assumption that one lady I was chatting with at a park was a grandma. She was a mom. Speaking of being a mom. Extreme weather is not in my favor.  It does not help me being a good mom. I overreact, dramatize, yell, cry… with or without a reason. I’m too hot to hang out by the stove so I feed my children take-out and ice-cream. I let the boys watch an extra episode to prolong my ice-coffee break. Mea culpa!

This week is a bit cooler and I’m slowly reviving. The fact that I’m writing this post proves that my brain has stopped melting and resumed thinking.  And what I’m thinking is that next year I’m going to enter the summer heat-wave more prepared.  I’m planning to hire a full time housekeeper for my family and send myself on a cooling vacation to Alaska. The only thing I need is to land some lucrative publishing deal to afford such extravaganza. If I don’t, I will have to go with a cheaper version of my plan and buy myself a statement T-shirt: “Blame it on the weather!”

What our Children Can Learn from Football Stars

I’ve always known I wasn’t cut out to play football. But now that the World Cup is coming to an end, I have also found out that I’m not made to watch football either.  I take it too emotionally apparently. A game score can virtually affect my day, and even if the team I cheered for wins, my feelings get all mixed up when the cameras show the shattered dreams of those who have lost. It’s just too nerve-racking.

But it’s also quite mesmerizing watching the very superstars pushing their limits, no matter how many trophies on their account. Their perseverance is as inspiring as their talent. They know that the physical fitness can help them to win a game,  but it is the mental stamina that can help them to win a tournament. Only those who are able to find a new strength in losing and don’t get carried away by winning can make history. 

Now, how does it all translate to parenting? Simple. Whether my boys will be football players or not, I hope they will know that talent is not all that leads to success. What also matters is focus, hard work and humbleness. And a pinch of good luck of course, if you want a complete recipe.



Great People I admire of whom I want my children to know: My Grandmother

As we were coming home from our vacation, my older son was all in tears. He was already missing his cousins. He wanted to see them everyday. I tried to console my little guy saying that I knew how he felt because I would also love to see some people everyday. I thought it should work, but instead my son demanded details. “Like who?” he asked sobbing. “Who would you like to see everyday?”

Who would I like to see everyday, indeed? For a loner and introvert like me there is no apparent answer to this question. I love to have my family around on a daily basis but apart from my three boys, I’m pretty selective. However, there is one more person that I definitely miss. It’s my grandmother, Stefania.

She played a very active role in my childhood and beyond.  In her very simple and quiet ways, she was always there for me, believing in me and  supporting my choices, even the unreasonable ones. It’s not that she was approving of them. She was just patiently waiting until I would find my way. Her support was the greatest motivator to live right. But for what I admire her the most is who she was.  Her childhood was mostly taken away by the war, after which she spent her life working hard.,  She raised four children and fostered two grandchildren. Life didn’t pamper her. You could see her pain in her eyes,  yet, she has never complained about anything. She has never been bitter or disgruntled. Actually, she’s been the most selfless, giving and generous person I’ve met. I remember once we were chatting about winning  a lottery and what we would do with all the money. She wanted to give it to her poor neighbors with little children. She didn’t have the money to give, but she often brought them fresh fruit and vegetables from her garden.

My grandma is 84 now. While many old wounds have healed, her life is far from bliss. A few years ago she lost her speaking skills after a stroke.  I don’t even know if she understands me when I talk to her on the phone, but I do know we communicate regardless.  My biggest regret though is that now that I have so many questions to her, a woman to woman,  all she can do is to respond to me with her weary look and a distant smile. I will never know more.