Thursday, February 25, 2010


as i remember it,
milla at avi's age now
was into puzzles.
sure, she would dance around in circles
quite a bit, loved music,
and of course books.
but mostly puzzles.

it's all about the imagination.
castles, balls, dragons, babies, picnics. . .
she can go on and on.
and in general
i'm not so good at coming up with ideas
(i guess because she does it for me),
but this one was born
at the in-laws house,
as we were waiting for dinner.
we played airplane.
clear from ticket counter, to hotel.
and it was a hit.

so today we made the props.
passports, tickets and baggage tags for all.
now let the imaginative play
go wild.
(especially since we aren't going anywhere
these days. . .)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

3 things

and so we have this game
that we play once in awhile among friends.
it's called,
name three things.
so far, what we've had to name
was three things we like about moscow
(okay it was born as therapy for some).

well the other day
i asked alex
to name three things he like about new york.
(we had very different experiences there,
i.e. he worked, i didn't)
well one of his three things
was a chocolate ganache torte
that i made on his birthday.
now if something like that
was one of the most memorable things
about living in that city for three years,
i've clearly been depriving him
ever since.

and so yesterday
to celebrate the 23rd of february,
defenders of the nation day
(or in general, "men's day")
i whipped up alice waters'
chocolate pave
(or flourless cake).
he said it was the most delicious thing
he's ever eaten.
(i'll send you the recipe
if you want)

although he's not one of the ones
that has to go scrounging
to come up with
three things about moscow. . .

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

january book

it was those couple of weeks
last fall--
when we were in colorado
and he was in china.
there was a 14-hour difference between us,
which made it particularly difficult
to schedule skype calls,
with such a small window of time
during the day
when neither he nor we were sleeping.
it was on that trip
that he bought for me
that lovely leather-bound journal.

and now that journal
has become our january book.
downright stealing the idea
from my dearest of friends,
our own was born this january,
in which once a year
the little ones in our lives are asked
a series of questions,
ranging from simple and petty
to reflective and meaningful.
each year, they will be asked the same questions,
and the answers will be recorded
for history's sake.

milla's already been asking
when we're going to do the questions again.
and it seems like an eternity
before we'll pull it out again
to go for round two.
but with the way time is flying these days,
it really is just around the corner.

Monday, February 22, 2010


and this
is what moscow life
is looking like these days.
though i don't think we're alone in the world.
nobody around here
remembers a winter like this one.
what was luzhkov saying
about spraying those clouds?
because i think mother nature
is taking revenge on even the thought
of such a thing.

but the birdies
are still tweeting in the trees.

Friday, February 19, 2010


and as he looked up at me
with those pleading eyes
as if to say
please save me from the torture,
i was compelled to tell him
that i fear
this was his lot in life,
being born unto two older sisters,
to be dressed as a princess
getting ready for the ball.

but a fine princess he did make.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

жигули на потолке

it's day 6
and i still can't find my socks.

though i will say,
we are making good progress.
at least towards being unpacked.
the boxes and bags are disappearing,
it's starting to look like we live here.

i took a break today
and took the kids to the playground
until we froze our toes,
and decided that called for
a cookie-making day
(a rare thing around here)
and avi and i ran home
and whipped up a batch of pumpkin cookies
with orange glaze.
i'm wondering if i should
go for number five or not.

i hung the first picture on the wall
in the hallway.
it's not in the right spot,
but it's the only nail i found
already in place
and it made me feel good
to see something hanging on the wall.

oh, such a long process. . .

and you,
wondering about the pictures?
well, let's just say
they will be coming in installments,
over the course of the next
several months.
we're furnishing the place from scratch,
and like i said,
long process.
we still lack a couch,
and table and chairs,
a bookshelf,
a buffet,
a bed.
you know, the details.
not to mention
all the curtains, rugs, wall hangings. . .

but tonight i will grace you
with one shot,
that of the living room chandelier.
a serious chandelier, 'tis.
the landlord
(and you can just picture her,
judging by who would choose this piece)
tells me it cost
the same as a russian car.

easy with the balls, kids!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


our first apartment in manhattan
was 300 square feet.

when we moved into our next one,
a spacious 500 square feet,
alex walked out of the bedroom,
through the living room past the bathroom
and into the kitchen and said:
"look how far away i am!"

our first night here
we laid on our mattress on the floor
and looked out across the great expanse
of our new bedroom--
the size of our old living room--
and said,
"look how far away the other end is."

what it means for us
to triple our space in one day:

*we get to have a desk!!!
in fact, not only one, but two.

*the stress of trying to get out the door
is much alleviated by the fact
that we can all comfortably fit
in the entryway.

*avi has already figured out
that she can run away from me
and it's not a straight line anymore,
it's a circle--
it keeps going and going. . .

*two of us can shower at the same time,
and three of us can use the bathroom
at the same time.
no more waiting!!

*when you misplace something, it's gone.
there are no longer
only three places to look.

*as i was unpacking things
into the wardrobe
i started by carefully stuffing things
into every inch of the top shelf
and working my way down.
when i was done unpacking,
i realized i still had half a wardrobe to fill.
and my clothes on hangers
have room to slide!

*we can store our own suitcases
(among other things),
instead of using the in-laws' attic.

*guests no longer
have to sleep on the couch.

*the girls have room
to do more than just sleep in their room.

*i can no longer vacuum the whole apartment
without unplugging the vacuum.

space, glorious space!!!

Friday, February 12, 2010


it's 12:01 am here.
i found myself an empty square foot
on the couch,
nestled among the bags of clothing,
the suitcases and the boxes.
i'm done for the night.

but the night is not just any other:
it's our last night in this,
our first apartment ever.
we moved in here
almost 8 years ago,
a few months after we got married,
and spent most of that first year here.
i wasn't sure then that we'd ever be back,
but sure enough,
we showed up on it's doorstep
just three years later, babe in arms.
and since that time,
we've added two more babes in arms.
and though it's served us well,
our time has come
to bid farewell.

and so i share with you,
upon leaving,
the four corners of my home
where we have giggled, jumped, screamed,
studied, danced, baked,
taken videos, read, kissed,
planted flowers,
dreamed, sang, reminisced, cleaned,
ate, played cootie, learned,
and lived.

and with the fondest of memories,
we say goodbye to you, dear home!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

these bags

it was exactly four years ago
that i was filling these bags.
another time and another place.

new york city, 2006.
we had spent a glorious 3 years there,
bought our first apartment,
bore our first child,
dove into entrepreneurship,
made the closest of friends--
i was being drug out of there
kicking and screaming. . .
but it was time for us to uproot ourselves
and cross the ocean
into the dark--
with no job, no home,
and no clear reason,
we leapt.

we put our stuff in storage,
found a renter for our place,
and decided what we couldn't live without,
at least what would fit into a few suitcases--
we didn't ship a thing.
except, they weren't really suitcases.
they were $1 plastic plaid bags
that alex made a special trip
to harlem for.
we packed four of them
as full as we could get them,
wrapped them in duct tape,
and said goodbye to everything,
and to new york city.
it was an ugly day.
but that's a story for another time.

as i pack these bags
for an impending move
i'm reminded of where we came from.
of the change we had to make
to go from there to here.
of all these four years have brought us.
of where our lives have taken us.
of all that belongs to us,
the unnecessary
and the dear.
i look forward to where
these bags will take us this time--
near as it may be--
and what lies ahead for us,
in a new time and place.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

blue book

this, my friends,
is a russian green card.
this, my friends,
is mine.

this, my friends,
is the equivalent
of many years of blood, sweat and tears,
and a truckload of red tape.
what this means for me:
no more russian visas.


do congratulate me.

Monday, February 8, 2010

sunday morning

i'm not sure
how your sunday mornings go,
but mine is pretty much the same story
every week.

i wake up
at the crack of dawn (8:00 am)
to the sound of the alarm clock,
feeling something like
a truck ran over me.
i think (very rationally)
"look how much time i have.
surely i can lay here another 10 minutes."
and i do.

finally i'm off to the shower.
the house is still quiet.

next with my wet hair,
i get the oatmeal going.
still looking at the clock
thinking i still have plenty of time,
i'll let the girls sleep a couple more minutes
while i dry my hair.
attempt #1 to wake alex.

then i start getting breakfast
on the table
and waking the girls.
at this point
i'm starting to think
it's time to get moving.
attempt #2 to get alex up.
(or maybe #3 by now).
wake baby, feed as i eat with the girls.

then go dress myself.
alex in the shower by now.
milla finishes breakfast and dresses.
i'm starting to really hurry now.
dress the baby.
alex dresses and shaves,
helps avi finish breakfast,
and get dressed.
i start getting the bag ready for church,
wondering (yet again)
why i didn't do this last night.

start shifting to chaos/panic mode.
hurry milla into the bathroom
to start combing hair.
brush my teeth, put in earrings.
remember to get the snack put in--
why didn't i do this last night?

chase avi down to comb her hair.
alex starts getting coats on kids.
i pull on my tights,
wondering why i'm the last one to be ready,
when i was up first?

the six square feet
of entryway in the apartment
that we are all crammed into at this point
is like a pressure cooker,
with all of us scrambling to get on boots,
hats, and grab bags and children
to get out the door--
because of course we were supposed to leave
10 minutes ago.
i sing a line of
"saturday is a special day
it's the day we get ready for sunday. . ."
to break the tension
as i'm zipping up my boots.

and then the whole way to church
i am asking myself (and others)
why i don't learn
when it's the same story every week.
why don't i hurry faster?
why don't i lay the clothes out
and get the bag ready the night before?
why don't i get up right when the alarm rings?
why don't i shine my shoes on saturday?

i'll definitely try it next week.