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Friday Fun: Burning Questions for Leana

I’ve “known” Leana for a few years now since I started reading Miles For Family, but there’s still so much I don’t know. One thing I miss about working in a corporate office is the interaction with live people. I enjoyed hearing about my co-workers’ kids, the TV shows they watched the prior night that kept them awake and their grievances with their in-laws.

It’s hard to establish that friendly banter when you work remotely from a few states away. I’d like to get to know my “boss” better, and I thought her blog readers might enjoy it, too.

Let’s start with how to correctly pronounce your name. Here in Texas, we would say “Lee-Anne-Uh”.  Or is it “Lee-Ahn-Uh” or “Lay-Ahn-Uh”?

Technically, my official name is Alena (Belarus version) or Yelena (Russian version). But many folks in US end up getting confused on how to say it, so I’ve just changed it to Leana. I guess the closest correct pronunciation is Lee-Anne-Uh (“lee” part would be short).

There’s no place like home. You live in Central Florida. Tell us about what you like and dislike about where you live. (And seriously, do alligators come into your yard?)

Nope, no alligators so far. Thank goodness! We don’t live near a lake, so that’s probably why. Though I did find a snake in my house once. We also had bobcats, pigs, foxes and deer in our backyard. My husband’s co-worker Jose has spotted a bear with cubs near his house (yes, really!)

Here is proof:


Who needs to go to Alaska? Visit Florida instead.

We live in a small town with hardly anything to do. That’s both good and bad. I can’t go to Carabba’s three times per week because it’s at least an hour away. So, it saves us money. On the other hand, you have to drive an hour to get to Carabba’s, and that’s bad.

If you could live in any state in the U.S. besides Florida, which state would you choose, and why?

Hawaii, specifically, the island of Kauai. Do I even have to explain why?



What is the best and worst thing about owning your own business?

Oh man, that’s a loaded question. It’s funny, I still don’t think of this blog as a business, though IRS would disagree. It’s definitely a very small  business, but still. The best part is that I don’t have a boss, and answer to no one aside from my readers. I can write about whatever I want and cover non-paying credit card offers that I know will benefit my audience.

The worst part is the fact that I don’t have a boss to answer to, and I’m not good at motivating myself. Running your own website and posting regularly is a ton of work, much more than most people realize. It’s a job and a half at times. I’m very grateful to have you as a contributor!

How has growing up in Belarus affected who you are today?

Well, I’ve mentioned before that I grew up poor. At times we only had milk, bread and eggs in the house. Let me tell you, I got sick of eating an omelet for breakfast, lunch and dinner every. single. day. But having little back when I was young makes me appreciate what I have today. Vacationing in a Holiday Inn and flying in economy class don’t bother me one bit. Bring it!

Besides friends and family, what do you miss the most about living in Belarus?

I miss the city of Grodno where I grew up. Walking on medieval cobblestone streets, strolling the river bank, sitting in an old cafe. I even miss riding a dilapidated public bus, just stupid things like that. 🙂

Since English is your second language, are there any phrases that make you laugh or have no equivalent in Russian?

Funny you should ask. For years, I thought the real name of a famous movie “Some like it hot” is “There are only girls in jazz.” That’s how we knew it, because there is no equivalent of “some like it hot” phrase in the Russian language. I also didn’t understand the meaning of  movie title “One flew over the cuckoo’s nest” till I moved to US.

What job did you have before you started Miles For Family? Do you miss it?

I was a tax professional for many years, but also worked in the school and cleaned houses to supplement my income. Basically, I was a “jack of all trades” and master of none. I do miss interacting with my clients IRL since doing it online is a totally different experience.

Some really liked me and even brought me gifts to thank me for my work, which was very nice. Of course, in a way, that’s what my readers do when they use the affiliate links, but it’s a mostly anonymous process. But I’m always glad when they let me know so I can thank them for their kindness.


Which do you prefer?

  • Coca-cola or Pepsi?   Answer: Neither
  • Reading or watching TV?  A: Watching TV
  • Zumba or Pilates?  A: Zumba
  • Beyonce or Rihanna? A: Rihanna 
  • Dark or milk chocolate? A: Dark
  • Pan pizza or thin crust? A: Thin crust
  • Dogs or cats? A: Cats
  • Morning or night person? A: Night person
  • Pool or beach? A: Beach! 
  • Aisle or window seat? A: Window seat
  • Marvel or DC? A: Marvel
  • PC or Mac? A: Mac


What makes you smile? What makes your blood boil?

Answer to both questions: My kids.

If $5000 (tax-free) dropped into your lap today, what would you do with the money?

My first inclination is to say “book a trip to Tahiti.” But I would probably just save the money, to be honest.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you want to have with you, and why?

My iPad (with internet connection), tooth brush and toothpaste. A gal needs to have fresh breath in case she is rescued!

How would your mom describe you?

Hmm, that’s tough. My guess is, she would say I’m a dreamer, too trusting, quick-tempered, independent, loyal, Americanized.

What do you worry about?

I worry about my kids growing up in this crazy world of ours, and not being there to protect them. That, and running out of IHG points!

What do you think about when you’re alone in your car?

This blog and what post I need to write next. It’s a beast that can’t be tamed.

What was the last photo you took?

One of Hyatt points’ transfer request form.

What is the longest you’ve gone without sleep? When?

That time back in 2001 when we didn’t get our luggage after landing  in Warsaw. We had to wait 8 hours in the airport for it to finally arrive. Then we took a night train to Grodno, my home city. At that point we were up for 48 hours straight, and it messed us up for the rest of the trip. I still don’t understand why we didn’t just get a hotel in Warsaw. I’m cheap like that.


With my husband and sister on a Polish train.

Thanks for sharing, Leana!

Anyone else have any questions for her?


Author: Nancy

Nancy is a contributing writer for Miles For Family. She enjoys traveling to the beach and is a big fan of Disney. Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids.

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3 thoughts on “Friday Fun: Burning Questions for Leana

  1. OK, here’s another question: you grew up in a climate that is known for very cold winters. Has your body completely adjusted to central Florida? In other words, are you one of those Floridians who throws on a heavy winter coat and hat when the high temperature drops to 65F because it is “freezing”? Or do you wear shorts and a T-shirt like many people from the northern US and Canada? (because we consider 65F to be warm. My assumption is that people from Belarus would also feel the same way).

    • @Erik Actually, I love Florida winters! I can see why so many retirees come here for part of the year. I live in central Florida, so it’s actually colder here compared to the coast. It even gets to freezing temperatures occasionally. But I enjoy cool weather, plus, it’s nothing compared to Belarus winters. Once, when I lived in Minsk, it got so cold, buses stopped running. It was something like -25 degrees Celsius. But I had to get back to my dorm, and it was a long walk. When I got to the room, I had to soak my feet in warm water because I couldn’t feel them. That I DON’T miss!
      I wouldn’t say that I wear shorts in cold weather. More like capri pants, something in-between. 🙂

  2. I just read this post. Nice, it makes you more real. Yesterday I had a meeting with some hobbyists and they mention that one of the things they like from going to the Chicago seminars is to “put a face to a name” talking about bloggers. Interesting…

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