How Having Penpals Helped Me Blog


When I was little, I used to love reading and writing. One more thing I loved – Bollywood movies.

I remember we would go to the cinema nearly every day while each movie is was running. I used to catch Bollywood movies on TV and try to sing and dance along. All of it later turned into me learning and performing Contemporary Indian Dance. But that’s not what I am writing about the today.

We used to have kids magazines and newspapers where there was a special section with children all over Soviet Union at that time, and later – CIS countries, looking for penpals. They offered exchange of hobbies, pictures and biographies of Indian actors, per se. And so, I was moved to start writing to these children.

Very soon, I had around 100 penpals. We sold to each other various items, exchanged pictures, trinkets. We told each other about our lives.

Among them were some children who were my friends in my grandma’s town, or whom I met in summer camps. I literally had letters coming in every day! I still sometimes see myself receiving these letters in my dreams.

So, writing to so many people on so many different subjects, moved me to write a diary. And then – short stories. My love for writing only increased with getting a computer and being able to type.

Fast-forward, many years later I became a teacher. And then – a mother. I started my first  blog some time between 2001 and 2003. It is still there.

And I moved onto LittleArtists in 2010, which evolved into Creative World of Varya.

Having all these experiences of writing and creating in my childhood, in my youth, and in my adulthood, I believe helped me not only be eloquent in my own  language; but later, when I was learning foreign languages, it helped me learn to express myself better in foreign languages.

I don’t have any connection with my childhood pen pals anymore. And I have honestly forgotten most of their names. But I will forever cherish that memory of having pen pals, of the experiences that help form who I am now.

Did you have penpals? Do you still keep in touch?

Exploring the Pacific Islands

Heritage blog1

This year to honour Asian-Pacific Heritage month I have made a simple printable that will help you and your children/ students with exploring the Pacific Islands!

Just click on the image below to open a file in another window!

pdf image pacific islands

As I mentioned in two of my previous posts, I have no direct relationship with the actual Heritage month since it is mainly honoured in the USA. However, I can absolutely relate to it granted our family’s diverse cultural background, and the fact, that part of our family lives in the United States and Guyana.

I think such heritage months should already become international since the United States itself has a very complex diverse population, that includes so many ethnic background from around the world!

Please do scroll down to see what other bloggers have shared! And hop over to our landing page to enter an amazing Giveaway!



Welcome to our third annual Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month Blog Series and Giveaway!

Do visit my posta from last year and 2014.

May 2
Pint Size Gourmets on Multicultural Kid Blogs: Mixed Ethnicity – The Children to Asian Pacific Islanders

May 3
The Art Curator for Kids: Otagi Nenbutsu-ji Temple

May 5
Crafty Moms Share: Katie Chin’s Everyday Chinese Cookbook

May 6
Creative World of Varya

May 9
Crafty Moms Share: Malaysian and Singapore Children’s Favourite Stories

May 12
All Done Monkey: Coconut Curd Recipe

May 13
Colours of Us: 30 Asian and Asian-American Children’s Books

May 16
Bicultural Mama: 11 Chinese Foods that Are Not Really Chinese

May 17
Wise Owl Factory: Vocabulary and Word Search Printable and Classic Stories

May 23
Miss Panda Chinese: Interview with My Son on Learning His Heritage Language

May 27
Pack-n-Go Girls on Multicultural Kid Blogs

May 30
Crafty Moms Share

10 Favorite Outdoor Ball Games


Spring this year hasn’t been quite outdoor friendly in many places around the world. Here we had to get creative with the activities and outdoor games.

Playing with the ball is probably one of the easiest activities and there are just so many ways to play with it. It is fun. It is suitable and safe for any age group (well, except those teeny tiny balls!).

So I am happy to introduce you my 10 Favorite Outdoor Ball Games, some of which I play with my children, and some of which we played with my students in the past.

1. Football. Alright, I should probably call it “ball kicking”  instead, especially when it comes to playing it with toddlers. But once the kids learn to run forward and backwards with the ball, and run with it in circles, you can introduce them to the simple rules of football.

2. Volleyball. That’s another one I could call “throw and  bounce” as this is what pretty much volleyball is. I remember we used to play something in Russia called “pioneer ball” which was an easy variation of the volleyball and could be played in a circle, as opposed to bouncing the ball over the net.

3. Ping-pong or table tennis. It is such a fun game and it could be done with or without a table.

4. Tennis. Or a variation of it where you can just draw a line on the ground.

5. Grass hockey variation. You don’t need horses for that. All you need is a few sticks and a ball!

6. Lapta or its variations. This is a game we play in Russia. It is similar to cricket and baseball. While it is a team game, it can still be played just with 2-3 people.

7. Water ball games. Throwing and catching the balls in the swimming pool, racing for it in water – this could be so much fun! And if you manage to put a net – you can play water volleyball!

8. Ball treasure hunt. Just like the egg hunt but for colorful plastic balls!

9. Mini-golf. It is very easy to set up in your backyard or on a grassy area. You can simplify it to just hitting the markers, not the holes.

10. “Get the ball“. This is THE most fun game for toddlers. All you have to do is throw the ball and ask them to get it. Couldn’t be simpler but tons of giggles, and it helps with language development, too!

What are you favorite outdoor ball games?



Please join us in this A to Z Spring Outdoor Activities Blog Hop hosted by Something 2 Offer!

Alligator Action Rhyme from Preschool Powol Packets
10 Favorite Outdoor Ball Games from Creative World of Varya
Chalkboard Pretend Play from Our Whimsical Days
Dandelion STEM Activities from My Bright Firefly
Froggy Fun Outdoors from Mrs. LeBlanc’s Learners
Growing Tuff Spot from Tuff Spot Play
Hiking Activities with Young Kids from Royal Baloo
Ice Play from Kori at Home
Jungle Gym Fun  from Something 2 Offer
Let’s Go Fly a Kite from Something 2 Offer
Mud Kitchen Tuff Spot from Clare’s Little Tots
Nature Art Project for Young Children from Uno Zwei Tutu
Obstacle Course from Play & Learn Every Day
Exploring Life at the Pond from Natural Beach Living
Rock Painting for Kids from Something 2 Offer
Ways to Play with Sidewalk Chalk from Crafty Mama in ME
Tactile Nature Letters with Free Printable Letter Templates {Montessori Monday} from Living Montessori Now
Underground Scavenger Hunt from Preschool Powol Packets
Water Play from My Bored Toddler
Xylophone Jars from CraftCreateCalm
Y is for Yellow Photography from Preschool Powol Packets
Our Zoo Atlanta Visit and Review from Crafty Mama in ME

Tips on Motivating Your Child to Learn a Minority Language


I have mentioned on several occasions that our family is multilingual. My husband speaks 5 languages. I speak fluently 3. Our children are growing up trilingual as well.

I will admit, though, that it hasn’t been easy for me  to maintain our minority language – Russian – in the family. I don’t follow OPOL, I switch languages. I am also not the most consistent when it comes to speaking Russian to my children.

Actually, I was quite consistent till my older 2 turned 2. Then, they just chose English as their main language as it is the language in our home, and most of our friends speak English, too.

I have many times felt guilt of not being more persistent with teaching them Russian. Until one day, my oldest, who went through a stage between 3 and 4 absolutely despising speaking Russian to showing high interest in it and picking up more and more. And even asking me to teach her in a more formal way!

And then, my 3 year old, who is still refusing to speak Russian, suddenly started reciting Russian alphabet and numbers 1-10. Which happened due to her always enjoying playing with a so-called computer – an interactive toy we brought back from our last trip in 2015, that allows you to listen to the letters and words associated with them; and has some matching and guessing games. So, she learned the alphabet and she can recognise the letters in a complete random order!

All of this made me think that unconsciously I have been actually helping my children become interested in their mother tongue, which has become the minority language.

And so, I tried several things that have since been motivating for all 3 kids (with the youngest still using more English but understanding and replying in Russian when asked to).

So, here are the tips that motivate my children to learn their minority language:

1. Having books in this language at home and actually reading them to your children. In our home we encourage reading in general and our kids love books. They often ask me to read something for them.

2. Showing them cartoons in this minority language. Something so simple like Masha And the Bear (in relation to Russian), where there aren’t many words but they are quite repetitive. Kids love it and the learn the words and phrases, and what meaning they are  associated with. At least once a week when they asked to watch TV I give them a condition that it should be a Russian cartoon. They can take it, or leave it. In our case it is a 100% success.

3. Meeting other people who speaks this language and having a conversation in front of the kids. It can be a real conversation or a Skype call with your family. Let’s face it: kids are curious! They always listen on the background what you are talking about. They may not seem to be paying attention, but they are playing and learning. And at some point they WILL ask you what you were taking about and you can encourage them to learn the language.

4. Playing with other children who speak this language. This is not always possible depending on where you live. But grab any opportunity! Kids learn from each other.

5. Using technology: online learning programs, apps and more. All of this in combination and in moderation raises awareness, promotes motivation to learn this language.

6. If possible and affordable – sign them up for special classes. My oldest is not having fun learning Chinese characters. So we signed her up for a special calligraphy class where she is enjoying painting and writing the characters more than ever.

7. Visiting countries that speak this language is very beneficial, too. It can also be a virtual trio!

8. Avoiding pushing. No, it doesn’t mean not to try speaking to your child in this language. It simply means if they child is feeling very strong and is refusing – do not punish him/her, do not get frustrated, or discouraged. Revisit it again.

I hope these tips are helpful. Please share your own!

Ridvan Coloring Pages for Kids

Happy Ridvan

It is that time of the year again where Baha’is around the world are getting ready for a very important festival – Ridvan. It lasts 12 days and three of those days are especially commemorated.

Once again we pair up with Leanna of All Done Monkey to bring you something exciting for these Holy Days!

Today I am trying my hand at hand-drawn Ridvan printable coloring pages for children. And Leanna – at adult colouring pages.

I have included in the document below 3 printable pages which include a very very simple image and a quote for each image.

Don’t judge me too harsh! I hope you like the idea of how I see these quotes manifested. Plus, the drawings are so easy, that your child can try his/her hand at replicating the drawings as well!

I have also chosen a font that allows children to color the letters in the quotes, if they like.

Let me know what you think. Meanwhile, I’ll be working more on my drawing skills together with my children!

To get to the pages, click on the image below!

RidvanColoringPages for Kids

Happy Ridvan to everyone who celebrates!

Keeping Mind and Body Fit in April

april goalsI am a bit late with posting my April goals.

For those of you who don’t know it yet, I am taking part in a great 10 week fitness challenge that requires me to eat clean and exercise. It has been going well so far and I was able to control my portions, and eat plenty of nutrients that help me not only lose weight, but feel energetic, too.

So, what are my goals for this month?


– educate myself more on various topics of interest (parenting, moral education for kids, some science);

– hopefully start learning more about photography (yes, this is for my mind as I would have to learn about the light, the focus etc);

– get back to my doula studies as to be honest I am a bit behind!


– continue to eat clean and make it a habit;

– continue regular exercise


– work on managing to have my posts all scheduled on time;

– work on time management in general, because, you know, you can’t just juggle it all at the same time.

What are your goals for April?

A Letter to My Multicultural Daughters


My dear daughters,

As I gather my thoughts for writing this special letter to you, I can’t help but thinking back to when I first met you and wander off to the future, imagining you all grown up. I can’t help but wonder what kind of people you will become, the families of your own you might have.

I worry. As a mother, I worry if you can find your place in this world, if you are able to fulfill your unique purpose. Yet, I am confident that you will do your best to figure it out. Because you are smart and capable. Because I refuse to believe that you will allow yourselves be lost.

Growing up multicultural can’t be easy. While we don’t ever have clashes of cultures at home between us, your parents, you face an identity crisis every time you are asked where you are from. Every time you open your mouth and respond in one of the languages. People look at you and judge you by the color of your skin, hair and eyes; by your behaviour and your knowledge.

My dear girls, I can’t possibly prepare you for every single situation you encounter in your lives. But I can give you the basics, help you lay a strong foundation for growing to be an honourable world citizen, a decent human being.

Growing up multicultural can’t be easy. But there are so many advantages to that: you get to immerse in various cultures,  observe traditions; and learn to respect and accept people are they are. You get to learn more than one language, think and function in those languages, switch between them easily.  And most important, you get to choose, once you are old enough to understand your choices, your own  culture, build your own traditions. And you know why? Because that is how we are, your parents, who absorb the cultures around and try to take the best out of them and implement that best at home.

I hope, my darling daughters, that you grow up being proud of being women. For women are the strength of our society. Women are the first educators and women are the bearers of peace. And so, I wish for you to find the balance within yourself, and be proud of who you are. Don’t let yourselves fall into the trap of inferiority. For all people are equal and there is no one who can claim to be smarter or better based on their gender or social status.

I can’t claim to be, my dear girls, the most perfect mother. I am, after all, a mere human, a woman, just like you, just a bit older. But I am always there for you. I am here to guide you when you need guidance; to listen when you need to share; to laugh with you when you need a companionship; to cry with you when you are sad.

And so, my beautiful and smart girls, I wish that as you grow, you truly learn from your experiences. No, it won’t be easy. But you have me, and your father. And you have each other, and your brother. And there will always be people around you who will support you and offer their love and friendship.

Be the shining lamps. Be the brilliant stars. Illuminate the heart and the  souls of everyone you meet on your path, despite the race, culture, and citizenship.

I love you always.
Your mom

Women's History Month Series on Multicultural Kid Blogs

Join us for our second annual Women’s History Month series, celebrating the contributions and accomplishments of women around the world. Follow along all month plus link up your own posts below! Don’t miss our series from last year, and find even more posts on our Women’s History board on Pinterest:

Follow Multicultural Kid Blogs’s board Women’s History on Pinterest.

March 1
A Crafty Arab on Multicultural Kid Blogs: 7 Women Artists Who Changed History

March 3
The Art Curator for Kids: Songs We Can See – The Art of Peggy Lipschutz

March 4
Kid World Citizen: Children’s Books about Women Scientists

March 7
Mama Smiles: Picture Books about Great Women in History Your Kids Need to Know

March 8
Hispanic Mama: 4 Latina Women Who Made It Happen

March 9
Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes: Spanish Children’s Book on the Life of Felisa Rincón de Gautier, First Female Mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico

Colours of Us: 28 Multicultural Picture Books about Inspiring Women & Girls

March 10
Witty Hoots: Some Awesome Women in My Life

March 11
MommyMaestra: Women in World History Trading Card Template

March 14
Crafty Moms Share: The Thinking Girl’s Treasury of Real Princesses

March 15
The Jenny Evolution: Non-Fiction Books about Women for Kids

March 16
Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes

March 17
 Living Ideas

March 18
La Cité des Vents

March 21
A Crafty Arab

March 22
La Cité des Vents

March 23
Peakle Pie

March 24
All Done Monkey

March 25
The Art Curator for Kids on Multicultural Kid Blogs

March 28
Creative World of Varya

March 29
Family in Finland

March 30
The Jenny Evolution

March 31
For The Love of Spanish


U is for Umbrella

Umbrella (1)

It has been raining heavily in Zhuhai and we have been unable to go out much as it doesn’t just pour – the wind is strong, too.

And it is just timely that today I am again posting for A-Z of Busy Bags hosted by Teach Me Mommy. My letter is letter U: U is for Umbrella. And I am going to share with you how to make DIY Umbrellas for dolls!

We have been working on decluttering and detoying the house, so we have kept several dolls and soft toys that all three kids like to play with. However, we often run out of accessories and we try to come up with DIY dresses and such for them.

What could be better than making simple umbrellas to “protect” your dollies from the sun and the rain?

Umbrella (2)

What you will need:

Double-sided tape

Straws with bendable tips (we had to cut ours a little)

Cupcake liners

Umbrella (3)

How to make the umbrellas:

1. Start by tearing a small piece of double sided tape and sticking it to the top of the straw. Tear the protective layer off.

2. Flatten your cupcake liner

3. Now, make 3 folds that will allow your liner resemble a con.

4. Stick it on top of the straw – voila, you have your umbrella!

Now, you can play with your dollies and soft toys by giving them umbrellas!

a-z busy bags

Please stop by Teach Me Mommy A-Z Busy bags landing page to see what other fun ideas have been already posted and will be posted in the next 4 days!

Chinese Tea Sensory Dough


Welcome to 12 Months of Sensory Dough hosted by Lemon Lime Adventures!

This month we are all about Natural Dough. And so I thought about making it with a twist – Chinese Tea Sensory Dough.

For the base I took a simple recipe of salt Dough but here is how I made some changes:


First, I brewed some Chinese Tea.

Then, the girls mixed cooled off to warm tea and dissolve salt in it.


Next, they added the flour and mixed their dough. It became VERY soft and smooth!


So, I let them divide the dough into two parts:

Part one was mixed with dry tea leaves.

Part two was mixed with tea leaves that were drained off excess tea.


Then, the girls insisted for both parts to be mixed and they made lots of figurines using the cookie cutters.

While the dough didn’t get any color, it actually looked whiter than a regular salt Dough.

Girls got to experience three textures from very smooth to very rough using dry and wet tea leaves.



Natural Play Dough with Natural Dye | Lemon Lime Adventures
No Cook Lemon Scented Natural Play Dough | Natural Beach Living
Natural Chamomile Playdough Recipe | Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tail
Paprika Natural Play Dough Recipe | Sugar Aunts
Mud Dough with Flowers | Powerful Mothering
Natural Calming Play Dough | Sugar, Spice & Glitter
Chinese Tea Play Dough | Creative World of Varya
Herbal Tea Dough | Peakle Pie

Please follow Lemon Lime Adventure’s Sensory Dough Pinterest Board for more ideas!

Follow Dayna | Lemon Lime Adventures’s board Sensory | Dough Recipes on Pinterest.

Blogging Buddy Series: Helen


In Kid Blogger Network we run a monthly project for pairing up to be blogging buddies for a month.

I had a pleasure of being paired up for a month of February with Helen of Peakled Pie and Witty Hoots.

I have previously worked with Helen on various projects and blog hops she hosted and I always enjoyed cooperating with her. Her creativity is amazing and I always enjoy her posts, photography and the way her blogs are designed in general.  

The month of February and the beginning od March were a little strange and busy: Chinese New Year holidays, all three kids getting sick after being back to school… Needless to say, this, plus some Internet connection problems, kept me away from being actively involved into 2 blogging buddy projects.

However, today I am very happy to share with you some information about Helen and introduce some of her best posts to you!

Helene and I sort of interviewed each other and here are the questions and answers that will give you a little insight her personality! Don’t forget to read her About page to learn more about who she is and how she came about blogging!

Varya: What moved you to start your blog?

Helen: Encouragement from another blogger and I wanted to record and share everything I was doing at home with my young daughter aka Peakles.  After about a year I started to realise I wanted to blog about other things that were not within the Peakle Pie niche – hence I started Witty Hoots.

V: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

H: Hopefully still blogging!  I want to write fiction books, some e-books and an online baby signing course.

V: Do you ever regret starting a blog?
H: No! I wish I had begun blogging years ago!  I have met or worked with some fabulous people and made some good friends too.  I have gained some great skills and I am constantly trying to improve my writing, photography and social media skills.

V: What would you be doing professionally if you were not blogging?

H: I’m not too sure, probably running my own business or writing a book!

V: What advice would you give to someone who was wanting to start a blog?

H: To write from the heart and to find their own unique voice, don’t try to copy what everyone else is doing and to join a blogging community that they can trust.

These are some of Helen’s best posts and projects:

Quirky Blog Hops

Teenagers and Exams: Top Tips for Parents

Mother of the Child in Green Wellies

Please follow Helen via her Facebook Page, Twitter, Pinterest, G+