Monday, November 29, 2010

dining table

i have a dining table, friends!
a dining table.
it may not be mine
(lest you these chairs were my selection),
but still, for the first time in my life
i can finally accommodate more than four people
at my table.
i have long awaited this day
and thanksgiving finally afforded me the chance
to even pull that leaf out,
spread my tablecloth out to the max,
purchase a few extra glasses
and to give my genevieve lethu bunnies
their first job
at holding name cards.
(they do really good work)

we had a delightful time.
even though i was the host,
my friend was good enough not to judge
my non-experience in the turkey roasting department
and showed up with the turkeys in hand
and cooked them himself,
and they happened to be mouth-watering.
and nobody even noticed that my pie shells
had shrunk.
i cook pies, i'm sad to say,
almost as often as i cook turkeys.
but surely we've got a few more thanksgivings
up our sleeve here,
now that we have dining table. . .
plenty of time
to perfect my pies,
buy a nicer tablecloth,
and maybe even dare to cook my own turkey someday!

Friday, November 26, 2010

cranking up

while your thanksgiving
is just cranking down
and you're fixing yourself some turkey sandwiches
between shopping trips,
we're busy getting our thanksgiving
cranked up.

the i'm thankful for paper chain was made tonight,

we read our
the very first thanksgiving
thanks for thanksgiving books,
and with the kids down to bed,
a husband just flying back into town
i am scurrying around
setting my table
and watching my pie crusts shrink!

but even so,
i'm thankful for a brand new oven
and to be a family together again!
a happy (belated) one to you.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

once pretty

this one cost me.
after the 86th time i heard them say,
but mom, that's not pretty!
as i decoupaged those cheap glitter-smattered ornaments
with those old le petit echo de la modes,
i decided the only way to solve this problem
was to buy them their own christmas tree
to decorate as they wished.
which i did,
and they had a grand time doing so
(i told you we're in the spirit early this year),
but am i still hearing
how i've ruined those once-pretty ornaments?
of course. . .

i still have to seal them,
but at least i'm happy
with the way they turned out.

Monday, November 22, 2010

the modern world

i'd dreamed of this day for nearly five years
(actually more if you count new york
where i had to cross the street
to dry my clothes).
finally, the presence of a real live dryer
is gracing our apartment.
when i told milla we were going to pick it up
she was very confused.
"but what does it do?"
"it dries clothes!"
"you mean, it's a string, or what?"
no, babes, welcome to the high life.

i can wash and dry at the same time.
i can dry my clothes
in less than three and a half hours time,
my clothes are not permanently wrinkled
after they come out of my dryer.
welcome to the modern world!
it's a dream!

Friday, November 19, 2010

factor of two

you know
i'm realizing more and more every day
how much they feed off each other.
the silliness,
the uncooperativeness,
the obnoxiousness. . .
i think about it most when i see the opposite--
either those moments
when i am one-on-one with one of them,
and they are pure angels,
or when i watch friends with their single children
and think
how uncommonly well-behaved they are.
i notice more and more
how the trouble
and the difficulty
and the challenge seems to have multiplied
by a factor greater than two,
putting the two of them together.

but i wouldn't change a thing.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

4:00 pm

my sun
these days
is looking like this at 4:00 pm.
and in fact,
this is on a lucky day
when she actually dares to show her face.
i know there are some
that get really affected by this,
but i don't mind it so much.
in fact,
it's sort of serving me well
by giving me that feeling
that goes along with impending holidays.
there's no snow around here yet,
and it's actually been unseasonably warm
for moscow.
but i'm already feeling it.

i've been sipping nightly
on the likes of talented inspiration like this:
drinking hot cocoa
and plotting my holiday plans,
all the while enjoying
christmas music (yes, already!),
my new favorite of which
was a recommendation that came from gifted:
sufjan stevens!
you've got to hear
holy, holy, holy
come thou fount of every blessing
once in david's royal city.
and you'll be feeling it too!

Monday, November 15, 2010

tonight for dinner

it's been awhile
since i've been inspired by my kitchen.
since france, to be exact.

back in moscow
back in the city,
and i find myself pained by the thought
of coming up with yet another dinner.
i flip through the cookbooks,
wholly bored by each and every entry.
in fact the other night
i was desperately trying to call my mother
to see if she would come cook dinner for us
(it's very unfortunate
that she is on the other side of the world).

and thus, friends,
it's been awhile
since i have shared with you
anything worthy that has come out of my kitchen.
but tonight,
i will share.

the lovely
la tartine gourmande
inspired this and she called it simply
i hardly followed the recipe,
as i hardly ever do in these sorts of things,
but perhaps it will inspire you,
if you are desperately calling your mother today too.

(and by the way,
of course i didn't make my own crepes.
what do you think
i have time on my hands or something?)

Friday, November 12, 2010

more wings

it's a dilemma
i've never had to face before.

if you remember,
my girls were three years old
before they had their first haircuts.
but this little guy's tresses
are almost caught up with avi's wings
of just over a year ago.
what can i do about it?
i wouldn't dare take the scissors
to that well-sculpted художественный беспорядок!
my dilemma being
that there are times when he has a hard time seeing
through those wisps growing down his forehead.
i fear the inevitable--
soon i will have to help him out
with that scary pointed object.
but touch those wings?
now that i just can't stomach yet.
will he last until three?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

days like this

this is the beastly glem-gas
that i told our landlord
should be handed over to the antique dealer already,
and also that turned my decent day
into one much worse.

now i have sworn to myself
time and time again
i will not leave something on the burner
and leave the kitchen
without setting a timer.
i may have been able to do that
with one little rascal to worry about,
but 3?  uh uh.
it's nothin' but trouble.
but problem number 1
is that i don't even have a kitchen timer.
problem number 2
is that i'm trying to get used
to gas burners again
after years of electric ones
(whoa, they're powerful!)
and problem number 3
was that the plumber called me away from the kitchen
at just the wrong time.
and it was only oil that was burning,
but it was enough to fill the house with smoke
(we have no smoke detectors!)
and enough to throw a thorn into my day
when i was scrambling like mad
to get lunch fixed and eaten
and milla to school on time.
and i won't bore you with the rest
of the miserable afternoon
but it involved dragging all 3 kids
to the school
to change clothes and undress
only to learn that there was no class today,
and then have to wait in the hall
for the teacher for 20 minutes
while my girls were fighting
and screaming and crying
and my baby was throwing up in the trash can,
while a corridor full of parents
looked on.

"mama said there'd be days like this."

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


you know
it's hard to have anything but
a love/hate relationship
with ikea,
am i wrong?

and i regret
that much of my married life
has been smattered with ikea furniture,
ikea catalogs,
ikea trips (which have eaten away hours of my life),
ikea evenings
(somebody's got to build that stuff),
and yes, even "ikea moments"
(as we have dubbed those inevitable
pouty disagreements that happen
on that darn showroom floor
among many other couples in the same boat,
it's really sort of humorous).
in a perfect world,
i would not be purchasing ikea furniture.
but that fact is,
i know of no other place in moscow
where i can walk in,
pick what i want
and walk out with it the same day
with minimal effort
(aside from loading that beast onto the cart).
it's such a piece of cake
i get sucked in.
and i have ended up with
the same dressers
as 10 million other families around the world.
but seriously,
what better place for kids furniture,
i mean, right?
keeping in mind, of course
that i don't have access to
the antique shops of europe or america
at my fingertips?
like i said,
the world isn't perfect.
and like i said,

although my little princess
helping me put that dresser together.

Monday, November 8, 2010

still small

of course she probably doesn't realize it,
but she is the lucky one.

after a big 3-in-1 party,
10 days later,
she gets another round of spoiling
on her actual birthday.
first it was the surprise carriage ride,

then it was the surprise visit
to a dear friend
where she was gifted that bow and arrow
she's been wanting

and that toaster
that she's been toasting with ever since. . .

she got to dress up in scarves
and dance the night away. . .

and then return home
to grandparents and another friend
for the (bakery-fresh) cake of (our) dreams.
she did confide to me
that she liked my "big" cake better.

and though all this year
she has been telling me
that she wants to turn 2 on her birthday
(poor middle child, like me,
with an identity crisis)
she did in fact turn a big 4.
but she did tonight as she lay in bed
and i kissed her goodnight
ask for my reassurance
that she is still small.
and i reassured her,
yes avi, don't worry,
you're still small. . .

Friday, November 5, 2010


i know i'm not the only one
to have a painful parting
with my firstborn
the first time i took her to school.
i know
there are plenty of others' tears shed
in like situation all the time.

but all my life
i'd never dreamed that i'd be sending my child
to an old "soviet" school.
here i'd always pictured
that she'd be attending
a good old suburbian american school
like i attended,
with the carpet floors,
the back-to-school nights,
the jumprope on the blacktop,
the school lunches on the plastic trays,
the library with the wooden space savers,
the always-anticipated
art, music and p.e. classes,
the smiling teachers
that give their students hugs,
the reciting of the pledge of allegiance!
and here i was forced
to scramble with milla into that corridor
where we had remove coats
and change shoes
in that stifling crowd of parents and children.
i never got to meet the teacher
or see the classroom,
i only got to hustle her through that doorway,
beyond which lie
what only my imagination could muster up--
visions of the soviet students
who had walked those hallways
on that "historical floor"
(as my mother-in-law called it)
since 1934,
little pioneers
learning about uncle lenin
and the "glory" of the u.s.s.r.
and as she reluctantly tore herself away from me
and had to hurry up those stairs
my eyes welled up
not only with the sadness
of sending my oldest child to school
but with the fear of the unknown
and what lie ahead for her.
i told my mother-in-law
(as she told me not to do such things,
that i'm upsetting my child)
that i may as well
be sending her
into outerspace.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

home (again)

it felt a little bit like christmas morning,
bringing them home
(to this one)
for the first time.
to watch them walk into their new room,
all the same stuff
but in a different place
and new layout.
to see them rediscover their old toys and books
after 4 months of separation. . .
it was a sweet reunion.

thank goodness kids are so darn adaptable.
i think we were still in france
when i told the kids
we weren't going to live
in the pink building anymore
but were going to get a new home.
of course they worried
that the sticker chart
wouldn't get transported
and other important items,
but in general
they didn't even skip a beat.
new house?  new day.
big deal.

and really
the same goes for this little guy,
who has lived in 8 places
(counting anything over two weeks)
in his first year of life.

what should i learn from them?
it is home, but they're also just places.
especially as we've had to go back to renting
this year.
this place isn't ours,
much as we try to make it look like it is;
it's just our space
for memory-making for the time being.
and though we hope this time being
will be longer-lived than the last,
if it's not,
we will just shift our home once again.
home is where we are.