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Leo Lessons Part 1.

It's almost like Justin and I are stuck in this super advanced parenting class where Leo is the teacher, and our life is the classroom. Before Leo we thought we had credit we could transfer in from our previous baby/kid class, but we have found out that our old credits aren't applicable. Now we are in the crash course like it or not, and failing isn't an option. So we try not to sweat bullets and handle each new assignment he gives us with optimism. On our good days anyway. On our bad days, at least we have the notes we kept from previous successes to console ourselves with. Sometimes it helps.

Leo Lessons so far:
1. Leo has taught me how to find the peace in the eye of the storm, and also how to hunker down and weather the waves when peace can't be found.
2. He has given me a new perspective on life; he has raised the bar on what I thought I couldn't handle. Now I see I can handle quite a lot. I thought I had problems before? Geesh!
3. Leo has changed my definition of the word 'hope.' It doesn't mean a happily ever after anymore, or a denial of reality, actually it's simpler then that. It just means Yes instead of No. Getting up and doing, instead of falling down and staying down. It means looking into the face of my nightmare and saying, Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner."

Here's another reminder for us, something to come back to when we are sad.....Leo's smile. Check it out on the video below. Also, just wanted to say again how much we appreciate everyone who takes the time to read our story and those who leave us comments. We love love love to read them! Please if you are reading, don't feel shy about introducing yourself to us, or telling us what you think.  It makes our blog feel more grounded, like a evening chat by the fireplace, instead of just data scrolling through the world wide web...Thanks so much for everyone's love and prayers, you keep us going.


  1. What a sweet smile! I love the toothless grin. There is nothing like it in the world. To me, it's all worth it for that first smile in the morning. I love watching Leo grow. We are always thinking and praying for you all. You are Michael's favorite people to pray for, and he asks to watch "baby Yo-yo on com-puer" almost every day. Miss you!

  2. That was beautiful. Sunny and I loved hearing that little laugh and seeing that little smile. If it were in my power I would undo all your sadness but alas, it is not. Still, I am grateful for what you share here. I am learning from you in truth what we here often discuss but rarely fathom the depths of; salvation in and through the trials and struggles of life. Leo is a grace-filled luminosity. Thanks for writing. We love you and miss you. Let's see each other soon.

    john brantley & sunny

  3. I love your strength as you go through these trials, you guys. I love reading your thoughts and reflections about Leo and life and all the lessons God is teaching you. There's so much courage in your story - so much... it's really inspiring. And little Leo is adorable! Also, the pictures that are on here are awesome!

    ~Andreea B.

  4. Anechka, - Thank you for sharing your pain, your joy, and your wisdom with us. God is teaching us all through Leo... and through all your beautiful family. Love and prayers. - Inga

  5. Awesome! sending more love as you remain ingrained in our hearts and daily prayers.
    The Barberg gang

  6. Great post and what a happy smile!

  7. Thank you so much for sharing. His smile is delightful!

    We just spent the past several days at Holy Protection Monastery and I put down Leo's name for commemoration.

  8. Oh that's just lovely. My girls are in love with Leo Clement, as they call him, and he is the first name they call out when we remember our loved ones in prayer.

    My 8 yr. old said the other day, "Mommy I just love his eyes. It's as if he talks so much with his eyes."

    Indeed, they are beautiful to gaze in to.

    With love to you all!

  9. I don't know your family; not even sure how I found your blog. But thankful to be able to keep up with your Leo and also learn from all that God is teaching you.

    LOVE those little baby noises. And the end of this video found me with my neck crooked at the weirdest angle as I held my laptop precariously on its edge... trying to see him as closely as possible. What a gift!

    Thank you for sharing the sweetness of this precious life.

  10. I've been reading your blog thanks to a link from a fellow Orthodox parishioner's blog. It's truly enlightening as I'm the mother of three under three (as I like to say it). Your journey and day to day encounters with God through Leo make me think, ponder, wonder, and pray- all things I so easily put aside. They soften my heart when I feel it hardening and calm me when I feel my impatience boiling. I love to look at Leo and can immediately see things in him I want to be. Thank you for sharing your lives with us all.

  11. Hi guys - I'm here, reading every word, and keeping track of Leo from afar. Great video.

  12. As parents you guys are amazing cheerleaders. I hope I can cheerlead ours as well as you do yours.

  13. Great smile. And thank you for your "yes" which we can all learn from.
    Deacon Greg

  14. What a smile! What a reward! Straight from heaven...

  15. Beautiful smile! Thanks so much for sharing the lessons you are learning. They make a difference in the way I live and parent too. Wish we could walk over to your place for a playdate like the days at SVS. Love you all.

  16. Anna,
    What is a nightmare if you describe it in detail? Is it about you or Leo? Is he in pain or in a bad mood?
    Thank you for teaching us all who read your blog.
    We had the Hawaiian Iverskaya mirotochivaja icon today.We wrote your names for the prayer in front of it. Also we gave your names to Fr. Victor Potapov to pray for at all the holy places in the Holy Land (the are going there at the end of this week).
    Love you all. Varya and Dasha

  17. Your daily "Yes",is a great victory over satan and his cunning ways.It is the total relinquishment of your own will and humble acceptance of the will of God.The concept so simple,yet the reality so difficult to accomplish in our day to day lives.Simply living from one heavenly smile to the next is what it's all about.I pray that God will continue to give you guys courage and strength to do just that.Leo's luminous smile is reaching far and wide and transforming the hearts of many.Thanks for sharing it with us.Your video clips are always a special treat.
    Anna,by the way Leo is doing an excellent job at developing your writing skills.Did you add writing to the list of your other talents?
    Love and huggs to all.

  18. I sob as I read your blog. I see the light of the world shine through the eyes of your dear son. Yes, there is hope. Behold the people who walk in darkness have seen a great light. Christ goes before us, shines within us and illumines the shadows behind us. God bless you

  19. Thanks for sharing your son with us. I love his little face. I see a lot of Justin in him.
    Love and Prayers,


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