Friday, April 29, 2011

the street

i've got a new babysitter.

it's called the street.

and don't worry,
i don't mean that in a ghetto sort of way.
i mean that my 18-month-old
has a newfound fascination
with sitting on the windowsill
and watching all the comings and goings
going on four flights below
on the street.

the first day we sat together--
i love our big, deep windowsills--
for several long periods,
and he couldn't be coaxed away.
now he asks me to get him up there
all the time.
and today between his window
and the window on the balcony,
he gave me a good, full, undisturbed hour
of floor scrubbing and dusting,
while he was perfectly and happily entertained
by his new babysitter.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


9:30 am church
which is 20 minutes away (at high speeds)
makes for an early morning.
especially when it's easter
and you've got a few activities to cover
aside from just getting children up,
dressed, fed and out the door.
and especially when your husband
came rolling in from work at 4:30,
making for a short night of sleep for me anyway,
and then putting me on my own
to do the activities, the feeding, the dressing,
and the getting out the door.
and especially
when there happened to be no hot water this morning.
although maybe you could say
the cold shower helped to jolt me awake?

in any case,
it all came together.
the girls woke up to their new easter dresses
lovingly hung by the easter bunny with care,
and to our resurrection eggs
hidden throughout the room.
they remarked about what a "good hider"
the easter bunny is
and were ecstatic about the chocolate egg
and chocolate coin that he brought.

we opened the oven to find our resurrection cookies
baked and ready for eating.
and then over our granola
we opened all the eggs
and read the corresponding scriptures
about Christ's atonement
and resurrection.
then we hustled ourselves to get ready for church.
and even had a couple minutes
to snap a couple of easter photos
before hopping into the car.

the day happened to be the warmest, sunniest
and loveliest that we've seen since italy.
we spent the afternoon reading books
and busying ourselves to get ready for an easter dinner.
on the menu:
roasted beets & arugula with goat cheese
deviled eggs (of course!)
mustard-baked chicken
sauteed asparagus with lemon
potato, red onion & fresh thyme tart
and for dessert:

alex's family joined us
for a festive easter evening
which put an end to our week's attempts
to honor the real easter.

and with the clink-clank from the kitchen
just finishing up
i sign off for a day or two of rest.

He is risen!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

easter eve

today we planted seeds.
seeds buried into the ground
to give life and rise again,
just as our Savior did.

and this evening
the ones that tell the story
as you prepare the cookies,
then you place them in the warm oven overnight--
to awaken to a surprise
on easter morning!

the girls are going to bed tonight
with great anticipation.

and the easter bunny is bringing them
easter dresses,
for the first time ever!
not to mention
spring has finally arrived in moscow.
not the kind of muddy, rainy, fur jacket & hats spring,
but the real kind, with sunglasses and light jackets
and even a couple of buds on the trees.
what great timing!

happy easter eve!

Friday, April 22, 2011

stories of His life

i guess this year
you could say i took a bit more of a
funeral-approach to this day.

at a funeral you wouldn't hardly even mention
the death of the person--
you focus on the life.

i remember last year i told them a little bit
about what happened on His last day,
and how He died on a cross.
but this year i decided,
with their young age and all
that none of those details are too necessary.
so instead we briefly mentioned
that this is the day that He died
(the day after passover, long ago)--
and then we each took turns sharing
our favorite story from Christ's mortal life.

milla shared about the brother of Jared
(okay, which stretched the rules a bit),
i shared about His calming of the sea,
avi shared about His feeding the five thousand,
and alex about His walking on water.

it was powerful
to focus on what was coming to an end,
rather than how it came to an end.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

seder meal

and after tucking the chillins
all snug in their beds
and brushing the matzo crumbs from my keyboard,
i can finally sit down
which sort of feels like the first time today.

preparing the seder meal for passover
is, however, not half the work
that the christmas feast is,
but preparing the plate,
each item chock full of meaning--
is perhaps much more interesting.

and it's even a tad serendipitous
that the girls attend a jewish school,
where they have been planning for this holiday for weeks.
each day they come home
and tell me more about what they have learned--
how baby moses floated down the river,
how the israelites were held captive in egypt,
how moses parted the red sea and led his people
to freedom. . .
and of course, about the passover or pesach holiday.
and as part of that
they both made their own seder plates,
and learned about each item that goes on it,
and what it means.

and as i prepared ours for this evening,
they watched with great anxiousness,
recognizing each one from their own plates,
telling me about each one.
and when i filled a small bowl with salted water
to go with the karpas,
milla even asked if i wanted her to cry into it
(since it is to represent the tears of the israelites).

we ate our seder meal
by candlelight in a dim room,
reading luke and john's accounts of the last supper
and reverently (most of the time) remembering
what our Lord did on this day
almost 2000 years ago.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

new life

with no record of what the Lord did
on the day before passover,

we use this day
to paint the traditional easter eggs.

the eggs symbolize the new life
that Christ gives to us.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

parable of the ten virgins

three days before passover,
Christ teaches in the temple
a handful of parables.

we first spent some time choosing our outfits,
and then adjourned to the kitchen
to craft our lamps--
and then we were ready to put on our show
of the parable of the ten virgins.

of course it's a little difficult
with just the four of us,
but with my narration from matthew 25:1-13,
our two wise virgins
slumbering, and then sauntering to the marriage
after refusing to give of their oil,
the little bridegroom came through the door
at just the right time
to let them in,
and we pulled it off just fine.

then we talked about who the real bridegroom is,
and how He will return to earth again one day,
and about what it means to be ready.

Monday, April 18, 2011

on faith

on monday,
four days before passover,
the Lord hungers
and then curses a barren fig tree.
following this
He goes on to teach His disciples of faith,
of asking, and receiving--
and moving mountains
(matthew 21:18-22).

what's amazing about faith
is that despite its complexity, its power,
and the inability at times for even an adult
to use or even understand it,
children can still move mountains.

i still remember some of the mountains i moved
as a young child.
one time my pet turtle escaped from his box
and was nowhere to be found.
oh, how i prayed that night before bed,
begging and pleading
for the Lord to send my little turtle
back home to me.
to open my bedroom door the next morning
and find him waddling down the hall
heading straight for me
was nothing short of a miracle--
a mountain moved.

and how i love to listen in
on the girls' prayers at bedtime,
to catch a little glimpse of the thoughts of their hearts,
to hear their casual yet utterly sincere
words of thanks
as well as pleas--
for mountains moved.
last night milla asked
for her dad to get to work "without traffic,"
and in the same breath asked
for baba Lelya to come back to life.
how humbling to think
the Father hears them all,
pleas great and small.

and just as humbling to know
that He answers them in His own way.
one heartwrenching experience took place
just last summer,
as i wandered with my three children
up and down the aisles of a flea market in france
on a blistering hot august day.
just as we were all worn out
and ready to look for a creperie to relax and lunch,
milla discovered she had lost the hat
to the my little pony she had just purchased.
and so after wandering up and down
a couple of those long grassy aisles all over again,
with no luck,
she decided to say a prayer.
and i, remembering my turtle experience
and foreseeing a great opportunity
for a young child to exercise and build faith,
said my own desperate prayer,
for her prayer to be answered.
and as we all dragged ourselves up and down those aisles
so wearily one more time, 
i kept praying and praying in my heart
that the faith of this child
could move a little mountain
in the form of a plastic hat.

the hat was never found.
and as we walked to the car,
i struggled painfully inside
to know why He would choose not to answer this little plea
and help grow a young child's faith.
it tore my heart out
to try to find the words to console her
when she kept asking me,
why wouldn't He help me?
why wouldn't He answer my prayer?

and that's why i say
is very complex.
and very hard, even for an adult to understand at times.

we did not find the pony's hat.
but her dad did get to work without traffic today.
and baba Lelya?
well, His merits do bring her back to life.

He does always answer.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

palm sunday

and waving our palm leaves
and shouting Hosanna!
we began another week of easter celebration

reading from matthew 21:1-11
we honored the Lord's triumphal entry
into Jerusalem,
His fulfilling of prophecy
and the beginning of His final week as a mortal man.

and then we sang
The Spirit of God--
because there's lots of Hosannas!
in it!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

guilty pleasure

my mother-in-law
returned from paris just last night.
and because she is both devoted and thoughtful,
she came back with
some cote d'or chocolate
and a handful of design mags for me.

tonight i just may find myself
laying on my bed
listening to the pitter-patter of the rain
sipping tea
and reading design mags.

what's your guilty pleasure?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

quail eggs

one must be a wee bit concerned
about the sanitary nature of such an activity:
i mean,
they were only just rinsed with water,
and they did come out of a little birdie
and we do live in russia
and there i was putting my mouth all over the things
to blow out the insides--
and inevitably some of that raw stuff is working its way
into my mouth,
which of course i'd try to wipe out
but then there's alex going about making dinner
nearby in the kitchen,
while i'm doing my thing
and he's a tad grossed out by it all
and said over my dead body would we eat those things,
and aren't you sad for the little birdies,
and are you sure you should be putting your mouth
on those things,
and i hope this doesn't make you sick . . .

but then
even alex
was the first to admit
just how lovely they are
sitting atop our kitchen table. . .

Monday, April 11, 2011

royal duties

and in general
i usually have very good success
with sending milla into his room with him
to entertain him and play with him for a bit.

but it was on this occasion
that i heard his desperate cries for help
that didn't settle down after a minute,
and even milla came asking
for my assistance.

and as i came to see what was the matter,
i found our poor king
sat upon his throne
and strapped to it by his capes
unable to move
and quite unhappy with the situation.
it was a tiny bit humorous,
beyond the pure pity,
and milla's
"but mom, i didn't do anything!"
only sprinkled more humor onto the sad situation.

but don't worry, the king was rescued
from his crown and his throne
and was given a bit of a break from his royal duties.