Wednesday, November 26, 2008


you will get a sentimental feeling
when you hear

voices singing
let's be jolly

deck the halls with boughs of holly

rockin around the christmas tree

have a happy holiday

everyone's dancing merrily

in a new old fashioned way

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

more magic

dear mom:
i address you this evening
from a supine position
in the corner of my couch.
we are getting reacquainted again today
after 2 1/2 years
of trying to forget the
countless miserable hours
i spent here
pregnant with avi.
today is only reminiscent.
but after another sleepless night,
this time not because
i was tending sick children
but my sick self,
i am wishing you were around
to wipe my brow
and give me some tlc.
but in your absence,
please know i'm still being
well taken care of.
milla has been preparing my lunch
(even looking at this plastic food
is making me nauseous)
avi has been wiping my nose,
and now alex is finally home
to put the house back together,
feed the children,
turn on the christmas music
and administer to my every want.
so don't worry,
your magic may be far away,
but we're managing.
now just pray for me
that i'll be ready for turkey
in just two days.
lots of love,

Monday, November 24, 2008


how clear in my mind
is that night
from my childhood
when i had one of the many
painful ear infections.
after crying in bed
my mother came and got me,
took me to her room
rocked me in that big
dark wooden rocking chair,
and sang her sweet melodies
until my pain faded away.
and i became a believer 
in my mother's
magical healing power.

and now as i rapidly approach
the age my mother was then,
a few of her secrets
are unfolding.
and as milla's saturday night
stomach flu bout 
gave me another turn
to rush (many times)
to the aid of my ailing child.

with yet another scream
from her bed
my sleepless night was full
of caressing, hair holding,
mouth wiping, reassuring,
loving, stroking,
and bonding.
and i began to think
my mom had passed on to me
just a little bit of her magic.

Friday, November 21, 2008


and that bookshelf
at babushka lelya's house?
well, yeah, i know
it's turned into a gallery
of our family
("когда я смотрю на все эти карточки,
у меня сразу повышается настроение"
"whenever i look at those pictures,
they immediately raise my spirits")
but beyond that?
a treasure of old books
i am scheming to 
"relieve" her of.

i found one from 
as far back as 1850 on those shelves.
and how great they will look
tied up with a little string
and sitting on my shelf.
who needs antique shops
when you've got grandma's house.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

filling the gap

and what,
with the first ornament
already in place,
the christmas trees
popping up around town,
the hallelujah chorus playing
(even avi is learning it; 
yesterday she saw her
halloween costume,
"halloween, avi, halloween")
and there was just one thing
we still lacked.

and today mother nature
filled in the gap.
now it feels right.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


that break
between the end of
avi's preschool group
and the end of milla's
leaves avi and i
1 1/2 hours
to revel
in each other's company.

today we walked down the street
to that cozy cafe
where we took the tall seats
at the window
with the view onto
the passersby
and the church where
pushkin was married
right across the street.
we ordered ourselves
some pumpkin cereal and crepes,
colored pictures,
and giggled
until every one else stared.

until next week,
my sweet!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

kick off

as i said my
i love you's
and kissed their
delicious cheeks
i was already scheming.

i closed their door
(knowing full well
i would be back soon to replace
bodies back in beds)
and headed straight to the kitchen.

i sipped that cup of tea
that was already
borderline warm
(though yet untouched)
cut myself a slice of that
that i geniusly added fresh cranberries to
this year,
and then pulled out that 
the first and maybe last
i will be buying this year.

and then i hung it
with great care
from the chandelier.
the tree will have to wait a few weeks,
but we did get a few flakes today.
and in honor of the 
impending joyous season,
i kicked it off
all by my solitary self tonight
with a distant chorus
of unknown songs
coming from their bedroom
just around the corner.

to another holiday season!

Monday, November 17, 2008

craft du jour

how long
i awaited the day
when she would be old enough
to do crafts.
and how happy to see
she inherited
the creativity-loving gene.

today we made
insect puppets.

Friday, November 14, 2008


dear dad:

it's been a long 4 days
of your absence.
we miss your laugh,
we keep setting your place
at the tea party,
we wish you were here
to make airplanes out of spoonfuls of food
clear out of the kitchen and back,
we keep setting aside
your game pieces for you,
we're tired of talking
on skype,
and we've got 2 little 
ballerinas over here
just ready to attack.

welcome home!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

sad day

i know they had expired
last march.
i didn't care.
i had nursed that package of oreos
for a year probably.
that's what happens
when you live outside america.
and today the package ended.

today was a sad day.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

in my shoes

i remember very clearly
visiting my older sister
some years ago
when she was a young mother
of two little toddlers
and that question
i asked her
that she so graciously
and casually answered
without the slightest bit
of offense.
"so, chris. . .
what do you do all day???"
i don't remember how she answered,
but i do know
she should have answered,
you'll answer that question yourself
someday, when you're in the same shoes.
and you'll laugh at yourself
for asking it.

today i am in the same shoes
she was then.
and i now know what she did all day then,
and probably still does now
(though her work has since multiplied)
and i idolize her
for the quiet saint she is.

but i must confess now.
i'm not quite as nice as she is.
if you ask me
what i've been up to,
i'm thinking,
hello, i have two little kids!
what can i be up to?
but then if you just assume
i don't do anything but cook and clean
and change diapers and play toys,
you're also wrong.
because there's more to my life than that!
see, you can't win.

unless of course,
you're also in my shoes,
in which case you know exactly
what i'm talking about.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


poklonnaya 16.
pink building
for afterschool activities.
4th floor, cabinet 8.

our young
aspiring musician
had antsy anticipation
for that meeting with danila.
anticipation made
even more intense
when we were early,
and he was late.

when the young fellow
showed up
of course the first thing
you can't help but notice
but that didn't really 
surprise me 
was the long, black
rockstar hair.
we said our hellos as
i further admired his casual way
with children (mine),
and then his flannel grunge shirt
buttoned all the way up
stylishly accessorized
by a sport coat.
what i had expected.

we stepped into his studio
lined with musical instruments
in every corner.
piano, drums, guitars. . .
and a host of furniture
that had survived the
50 years
or 100 years
in that same soviet building.

the next hour 
was spent nuzzling
into mama's lap
half-wondering who
this stranger was and 
what he wanted from us. . .
to a long detailed explanation
of the anatomy of a violin,
prodded answers
but only in whispers
(this is my screamer
i am talking about)
and lots and lots of coercion
to touch that bow
or anything else. . .

and thus we left,
quite unsure
about what had just happened.
but such is the life
of a 
4 and 1/24th-year-old.

Friday, November 7, 2008

sweet fleeting. . .

on this day
730 short days ago,

left heaven
and came to me.
we celebrate.

balloons blown up
delicacies spread over the table
the cake carefully decorated
the mountain of presents
long anticipated
and the sign on the front door
to greet our guests:
"please knock, baby sleeping."
i mean, a girl
got to get her beauty sleep!

when we awoke to the mayhem
after half a nap
we were in a daze for a bit

but with 5 toddlers
running wild
and getting into all your toys
it doesn't take too long
to remember
it's your birthday.
and you're the star of the show.

that mountain of presents
turned into
a mountain of toys and trash.
and it was much easier finding
a place for the trash
than it is for the loot.
still working on that.

and when the candles came
we were so excited to blow
through our little teeth
we had one blown out
before the song was sung.
it got relit,
and reblown out. . .

but that other one. . .

that other one!
that one we took about
5 minutes to ponder
among the glaring eyes
and the prodding
and the anticipation
so thick you could
cut it with a knife. . .
what do you want from me, people???

of course this is where milla
was glad to step in

and then we were whisked off
to the circus
for an evening of
heart stopping
on and off.
me oh my.

and during the intermission
we got some popcorn
that certain of us
were intent on not sharing.
until they took off
in a high speed chase
to get away from the aggressors,
when luck would have it
they tripped and fell,
and the goods were
spread over that dirty cement floor...

and then we came home
to the mess
of the celebration,
donned our pajamas
and then were held and rocked,
rocked and sang to
for 10 times longer than usual,
just as we were
365 days ago
in a futile attempt
to stop time
and lap up every last moment
of this
sweet fleeting
childhood. . .