There She Goes Hodgepodge

1. Growing up, were you close to your grandparents? My maternal grandfather died in Persia before my babushka immigrated to the U.S.A. I was closer to my little maternal babushka. We visited my paternal grandparents regularly and honored them but never were as close to them as to my little babushka.

Tell us one or two specific things you remember about them.

Me and my little babushka on my wedding day. She was a believer and prayed for me all her days and tried to teach me to embroider. She embroidered with one hand because she lost one hand up to her elbow when she was young.

My paternal grandparents loved us as they could. We enjoyed a Russian Banya (Steam bath/sauna) at their home regularly growing up.

2. What’s an item you were attached to as a child? What happened to it?

I have not one item from my childhood that I’m attached to, in fact I have not one item from my childhood.

3. When you look out your window, do you see the forest or the trees (literally and figuratively)? Explain.

Out my current windows I see trees but no forest. I see houses no big views.

4. Do you like sour candies?
I enjoy Mike and Ikes.
Which of the ‘sour’ foods listed below would you say is your favorite?
grapefruit, Greek yogurt, tart cherries, lemons, limes, sauerkraut, buttermilk, or kumquats
Have you ever eaten a kumquat?
Yes, I have. Growing up in Southern California our relatives had kumquat trees and we’d enjoy them fresh off the tree. It’s fun getting past the sour skin to the inner sweetness.

What’s your favorite dish containing one of the sour foods on the list?
I like the effect and taste that limes add to pica de gallo and I enjoy lime in my gin and tonics.

5. July 1st marked the mid point of 2017. In fifteen words or less, tell us how it’s going so far.

Becoming grandparents and watching our granddaughter grow makes 2017 a stand out year.

6. Insert your own random thought here.

Summer is great but it’s not my favorite season.

Linking up to Wednesday Hodgepodge at From This Side of the Pond. Joyce asks the questions and we answer them.

Hume Lake Christian Camps

In my 66th year I continue my reflections on my life with a very significant year, 1963, my twelfth year on this earth. A year with a decision that has shaped the rest of my life.

Nestled close to  Kings Canyon National Park in California’s Sierra Nevada is the Youth Camp that I was able to attend in 1963, 1965 and 1967. I was 12, 14, and 16 during these wilderness adventures.

I was raised in a family who attended church regularly and often, very religious. The church I was raised in gave me the impression that because I was Russian and a member of their church that I had an exclusive connection with God. What I learned at Bible Camp was that the only exclusive connection I could have to God was through Jesus Christ and what He did for me on the cross. Being Russian and being a part of my father’s religion did not give me a direct link to God. In 1963 at Hume Lake while listening to a speaker talk about Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross to save sinners I was moved to step out and become a follower of Jesus. God’s plan of salvation was exclusively through his perfect son Jesus, who is fully God and came to earth to live a perfect life among us and be the perfect sacrifice for our sins. I knew I was one of those sinners and I needed a Savior. This decision began a journey of ups and downs, highs and lows, but a journey forward with my God and Savior. When I began my new life following Jesus I was clothed with His righteousness and reconciled to God. I continue on this walk, never perfectly but with God’s grace I carry on. He will be teaching me by His Holy Spirit all the days of my life. My God and Savior is and will be faithful to see me through all of my life on this earth and I look forward with the Hope of seeing Him face to face in heaven. During this same year, 1963, my father began his journey of following Jesus after hearing Billy Graham at the Los Angeles Coliseum share the truth of Jesus Christ and why He came to earth over 2000 years ago. 1963 was an epic year for me and my family. For my father and me we became part of God’s movement of love and grace through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. My mother was a follower of Jesus when she married my father. My two older sisters had started following Jesus before my father and me.

I’ll share this verse that Billy Graham proclaims in every interview I’ve ever heard him give. John 14:6 (ESV) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

High School scanned4HUME LAKE CHRISTIAN CAMP 1967

Reflections of my story from age 18 onward of my life will continue in another post.

Presently we are still waiting for that phone call. We are happy for it coming later than sooner since baby Addy is enjoying the womb and continues her growth in that comfort. We have a bag partially packed so we don’t have to wonder about something we forgot. We keep the car gassed up and ready to go. We are still in a very rainy pattern here in the Pacific Northwest. Plants should flourish well here this Spring. How goes it where you live?

Just Because…

…today marks my sixty sixth year on this earth, I reflect.

I was the fifth child born to my Russian immigrant parents.

I arrived on the scene just four years after my parents settled in East Los Angeles from Tehran, Iran.

Our first sister died before she turned two in Iran and that’s why you only see four of the five of us born to my parents here.

Our mom always made sure we had new clothes for going to church on Easter and Christmas.

After 7 years of being the baby of the family my brother Tim arrived. We were still in the black and white photograph era. In the fourth grade I memorized these verses from the Bible in the King James Version and these verses are still among my favorite from God’s Word. I was on a journey that would lead me to a significant event in my life when I was twelve. I’ll share that in a later post.

John 14: 1-3 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

After Tim and moving on to the color film era three more siblings were added to our family, the last two being twins. Oops, my older brother Fred is absent from the photo above. These reflections are from my first eighteen years.

I will add more reflections on my sixty six years in the days to come. For now the most significant change that will come to me in my sixty sixth year is that I will be able to hold my first grand baby, Addy, for the first time.

That will be a very nice gift for my sixty sixth year as I move on to the Baba/Grandmother stage of my life. More to come. I’m headed out on a little birthday adventure with Dear today. I am blessed. I’ll check in later to see your posts.

Linking up to ABC Wednesday for J is for Just because…thank you jubilant hosts.

Christmas Through the Years…

This morning I’ve been reminiscing about Christmas over my sixty some years on this earth. Here it is the day before the day before Christmas and you might be thinking that it is quite odd that I have the time to reminisce. It’s Vee’s fault, she got me going this morning with a simple question, “What makes Christmas feel like Christmas to you?”

Growing up in Southern California we never had a white Christmas. We would be happy if it was at least cold!  My parents were fresh immigrants not off the boat but off a Red Cross Plane. I doubt there was a Christmas tree the first few years here. I’m going to call my Pop later this morning and ask him. He might not remember since he’s getting close to being 93! …That was a fun phone call. My parents did not start getting Christmas trees until they bought their first home in Montebello Gardens now called Pico Rivera and after my maternal babushka and Uncle’s family arrived in the United States. I had to give my Pop a lot of prompts so that he could remember.

The picture below might be the very first Christmas tree we had growing up. This is the living room of our home with my mom, oldest sister Kathy, me, my brother Fred and sister Vera. This was a bonanza Christmas for us with a couple presents each. I remember a year when I woke up to find no presents under the tree. That was sad. When I went to church and my friends were bragging about what they got, I made up stuff that I got. Pride starts early on…

Before my mom’s mother and brother’s family arrived from Persia my parents were mostly influenced by their Molokan friends and my Pop’s side of the family who were all Molokans. Molokans are a small Russian sect. They did not celebrate holidays like Christmas and Easter or Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. Before I step on any toes here there are Molokans today who do celebrate some of these holidays. My mom’s side of the family were Russian Baptists. They did celebrate Christmas and Easter and my parents starting attending their services on those holidays and soon we started adding a Christmas tree and Christmas celebrations in our home. Although Christmas was celebrated, Santa was never part of our festivities.

The above photo was taken in San Francisco at some friends of my parents. I’m adding this one because I think these outfits are our Christmas outfits that my mom made us. I’m the one with the Buster Brown hairdo sitting in the chair. My sisters are on the right side of the photo and my brother is kneeling on the floor. Every Christmas and Easter we had a fresh set of clothes to wear to church.

In January of 1958 we had a new little brother, Tim. Since he was very mobile by Christmas we had to watch him closely as he managed to pull the tree down.

We ended up putting a table in front of the tree to keep it a little more out of reach for him. This was also a year that I did not go to church on Christmas and that’s why I’m still in my pajamas. I was ill with what I understand was a kidney infection. I was in the hospital for several days and then out of school for several months and had to have an in home teacher come to the house to give me lessons.

In December of 1959 our brother Steve was born. This photo was taken at my Uncle Paul’s home in 1960. My babushka lived with them and we would go and visit on Christmas. My dad has his Molokan shirt on (think Dr. Zhivago) but I’m not sure if this is before church or after church. We would have two more siblings added to our family in 1963.

Christmas a few years after we had two more siblings, the twins, Lana and Leonard.

This is probably Easter not Christmas but I had to show the whole family minus my brother Fred. We were still living in Montebello.

We moved from Montebello to La Mirada and this was the Christmas before Kathy and I were married. Fred and Vera were married already.

There came a time that my little Babushka decided she wanted an apartment of her own next to a few of her Russian widowed friends. This apartment was just doors down from the Russian Baptist church we all attended. Breakfast at Babushka’s became a tradition every Christmas before our Christmas service at Bethany Russian Baptist church. It was a feast which my one handed babushka prepared for us until she died. She lost one of her arms up to her elbow when she was a child. You should notice that my father is wearing a suit and tie this Christmas and his countenance is merrier. No more Molokan Shirts for my Pop as he accepted Christ at a Billy Graham Crusade and subsequently left the Molokan church and was baptized at Bethany Baptist. Hallelujah and amen! He was ostracized by his own family for this decision but had reconciliation with them a few years after.

Another breakfast at Babushkas after Dear and I were married with some of my family and cousins.

Our first home in Huntington Beach.

Our second home in Huntington Beach where Josh was born and celebrated his first Christmas. All of our children were born shortly after Christmas in their respective years so they were almost a year old when they enjoyed their first Christmas.

Josh and Dan in 1981 or 1982.

Our family of four still in Huntington Beach. When our kids were little we didn’t go overboard on Christmas gifts. Some years a few more, some years a few less. We were never fans of gift opening going on and on and on.

One of the years that the Christmas celebrations were at our home for my extended family. We are reading the Christmas story from Luke chapter two. I think this was 1983.

Christmas with Dear’s side of the family was always nice and quiet compared to getting together with my side of the family. In the two bottom photos of the collage I’m pregnant with Josh (Christmas 1978). Each of our families added a little girl to our numbers later. We would read Luke chapter 2 together before we opened gifts. We also would enjoy a nice meal together.

Christmas in Ventura 1985, and 1986 and Christmas in Washington 1988. When we first moved to Washington we tried to drive down to California for Christmas each year. That got old fast as the roads over the Siskiyou pass in Oregon state could be treacherous and it was hard being away from home during Christmas. We decided summer visits to California were more beneficial for all.

We had a surprise White Christmas in Washington in I believe 1990.

On a rare Christmas in 2008 family from Dallas, Washington and California all got together for a Bagdanov family Christmas in Huntington Beach at my sister Vera’s home. This was Christmas Eve 2008. Our immediate family flew home to Washington on Christmas morning and were met with several inches of snow at this old house and a power outage! I’m skipping a few years now…

Christmas 2012 we were missing a few of our family at Christmas. Katie was in North Carolina waiting for Andrew to arrive home from a 6 month deployment to Afghanistan. Dan was in eastern Washington and didn’t have Christmas off.

Pictures18-001Andrew arrived home on Christmas day. The very best of gifts!


We all were together after Christmas that year.


In 2013 Andrew was in Afghanistan again and Katie spent Christmas with us.

2014 we were all together with the newly engaged couple Dan and Jamie arriving later on Christmas day.

We decided early after our kids got married not to hold on tightly to having to celebrate together on a given day but to be flexible choosing joy in what worked out for the year.

This Christmas we are grateful that all eight of us will be together on Christmas Day.

So, what makes Christmas feel like Christmas to me? It’s not the weather but it is the people. Loved ones sitting at a table filled with good food. Loved ones singing together in church or caroling. Music is a big part of Christmas for me. We enjoy going to a Christmas Eve service to sing about our Savior. I’m glad when traditional carols are part of the service. Our youth group in junior high and high school would go Christmas caroling every Christmas Eve. We would go to convalescent homes where some of our Russian church members were being cared for. We’d sing in Russian and English. We’d always stop at the widows (babushkas) apartments a few doors down from the church to sing for them in Russian. Before I was married my family went to church twice on Christmas day. Once for the morning service and then in the evening there was usually a cantata that my sister’s and I would be part of and that we practiced for weeks ahead. In between services we’d have a meal at our home where a few extra people would be added at the table. Growing up my mom always sewed a new dress for me to wear on Christmas. Wearing something new on Christmas makes it feel like Christmas to me, too.

Ever since our kids were little we have woken them up to Christmas music playing on the stereo on Christmas morning. Even these years they wait to hear the music so they know it’s time for stockings!

This post is mostly for me to see my Christmas history. If you made it through thank you. Is there something that makes Christmas feel like Christmas to you?

Mother’s Day ~ World War II

This is Dear’s grandfather, his father Rex, one of Rex’s sisters and Rex’s mom, Nettie. Rex honored his parents his whole life and left this great legacy to his two sons. Nettie died 2 months before Rex, who died of complications due to lung cancer in 1985.

This is a Mother’s Day card that Rex sent his mom in the 1940’s. His mom framed it.

On the back of the frame here is some history of what was happening with Rex during World War II and how Nettie felt. We called Nettie, Gommy. Our kids called Nettie, Gommy Gommy.

I’m so happy that she wrote this history on the back of the frame. This last photo is of Dear, Gommy, and Rex.

Pregnant Josh newborn

Hope a happy Mother’s Day weekend is in store for all of you. The weather is supposed to be summery here in the Pacific Northwest. Maybe we’ll even put our patio covers up. We will definitely do some outdoor activities!

The Heritage…

I was struggling with how to share all the photos I took at our nephew Caleb’s and new niece Marie’s wedding this past Saturday. This new couple is so blessed with an amazing legacy of marriage longevity so that is where I decided to start. The fathers, the mothers, the grandparents, and the great grandparents. Over 350 years of marriage was represented!  73 years, 70 years, over 50 years, over 30 years, over 20 years…those are amazing numbers in this day and age.

Caleb & Marie7The father of the groom, my brother Steve, with the groom Caleb. Loved watching their interactions while they waited for the Bride to appear in the distance.  (Now I’m struggling with where I should be putting commas! Added pressure with so many English majors in this family!)

Caleb & Marie4My sister-in-law Kelly, the mother of the groom and married to my brother for 32 years.

Caleb & Marie5The mother of the bride, Lizzie. Her husband Todd and she have been married for 25 years.

Caleb & Marie14Marie’s great grandmother and her grandparents. Great grandmother was married for 73 years before her husband died! Each of Marie’s grandparents have been married over 50 years! (53 & 55 I believe)

Caleb & Marie15Caleb’s grandparents, my SIL’s parents, married for 56 years.

C & M wedding 5Caleb’s grandparents (my parents) watching the wedding via facetime at their apartment. How cute are they all dressed up for the wedding from afar!? They have been married for 70 years!

Caleb & Marie12Father walking his first daughter to get married down the aisle. They were both fighting back the tears. Marie has two younger sisters.

Caleb & Marie13Both fathers officiated the wedding side by side.

IMGP0829It was great, Todd prompted Caleb for his vows and Steve prompted Marie for her vows.

And then all the grandparents came up to pray a blessing over this young couple.

IMGP0836What a beautiful moment representing 364 years of marriage!

I’ll be sharing more posts soon because there’s the bride, the groom, the flower girls, the extended families, the venue, the tables, the fabulous way they had us find our assigned tables, etc. etc…

I’m feeling more alive today. Yesterday was a do nothing recuperation day for me. How’s your August going?

Buh buh buh buh B!

It’s time to present something for the letter B at Jenny’s Alphabe-Thursday. I was scratching my head wondering what to post and then I thought why not bore all of you with some brief bullet points about ellen b. I hope by now you’ve noticed the letter b‘s in this post are highlighted in blue!

I’ve always been ellen b. My maiden name and married name begin with the letter B. Here I am in my predominately blue apron doing a cooking demonstration with some of the Mennonite Girls Can Cook at Lepp Farm Market in British Columbia.

I’m not Mennonite but the Mennonite Girls adopted me because many of our recipes are similar since my heritage is 100% Russian. We started with a blog together and now we have our very own cookbook!

This is one of my recipes in the book from my mother Nadia Bagdanov for Blintzes! You can order the book at Amazon! Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d have some recipes in a published cookbook but blogging has a way of taking you to places you never dreamed of.

Speaking of being published, another brief story I wrote was published in this book…

It’s the story of my father coming to Christ at the Billy Graham Crusades in Los Angeles in 1963 and the impact that had on the Bagdanov family. You can read my post about that here.

After my father came to Christ we stayed in a church he was raised in until he decided to be baptized. At that point the group we were part of ostracized him and we joined the Russian Baptist Church where my Babushka attended. Babushka is the name for grandmother in Russian. My maternal grandmother was a wonderful lady who raised 3 children and was an amazing embroiderer even though she only had one hand. She lost one of her arms from the elbow down when she was a little girl in Russia. My mother had been raised Baptist but left the church when she married my dad and then we all ended up rejoining the Baptist church. Here’s a photo of my little maternal Babushka. We all really loved her!

Funny side note: There was a rumor in the Persian Village where my parents were married that my father could not have children. Well that rumor was put to rest when my parents ended up having 9 children. You might be wondering how my parents ended up in Persia since they are Russian. Both of their families fled Russia separately in the early 1930’s because of religious persecution. They traveled on foot into Iran and settled in villages outside of Tehran.

Russian Baptists can sometimes be quite legalistic. No dancing, drinking, smoking, playing cards, or going to movies. Thankfully my parents weren’t strict Legalists. They even took us to the drive-in theater to see all the great Walt Disney Movies growing up. But they’d still be surprised to know their daughter enjoys one of these every now and then.

A Bloody Mary. Maybe I’m on the carefree, wild side because of my birth order. I was #4. I have 2 older sisters and an older brother. The fact that I was the baby of the family for 7 years before 3 more brothers and a sister were born into our family might have something to do with my “who cares” attitude!

Before I stop my babbling I wanted to share that we are planning a wedding for our daughter and her Marine husband Andrew in January of 2012, after Andrew returns from his first deployment. We booked the wedding venue today. We chose Blue Ribbon on Lake Union in Seattle because of their total package weddings and the fact that they have a military clause that will allow us to change the date if we have to. Andrew and Katie got married in a civil ceremony on March 11th of this year in North Carolina. Our friends and family will come together to celebrate that union at a wedding ceremony to offer belated witness to their vows. One of my younger brothers who is a pastor will perform the ceremony next January.

Hope you made it to the end of my bullet point post. I’ll be coming around before you know it to see what you’ve been up to with the letter B! Thank you Jenny for hosting this meme!