Friday, September 30, 2011


my mom thinks
it's OCD shining through
in his budding 23-month-old personality.

i think the fact that he does this
all the time
is a sign of pure genius.
or at least cuteness.

i love this stage.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


it was november 2 of last year
when i saw it for the first time.
i snapped a photo of it on my iphone
in my favorite store,
took note of the ugly price tag,
but said to it anyway:
i must own you.

but how to pull it off?
my first thoughts
(as many creative people's are)
were: i can make that!. . .  uh. . . right?
but the more i pondered it
the more i realized how hideous my attempt would look
compared to the real thing.
so thoughts turned to the internet.
surely, it's sold somewhere else in the world,
as everywhere is cheaper than here.
and i think it was alex (as usual)
who thought to check amazon.
of course!
everything is sold on amazon--
(lest you who have access take it for granted!)
and alas, it was on amazon--
of course for 1/3 the price here.
but how to get it here???
i spent months exploring options
or waiting for some kind soul
who was making a trip to the states to haul it back for me--
but all in vain.

so how, then,
you may ask,
did it finally end up in your baby's room?
well. . .
let's just say,
it was a slightly belated 35th birthday surprise
from an uber-cool and thoughtful

how did i get so lucky?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

chalk canvas

this last move
(one year ago)
gave us something invaluable
and very hard to come by
in the center of moscow:
a gated parking area
(our own covered spot!),
and little private playground area for the kids.
now of course it's
far less glamorous than it sounds,
but for us
it's dreamy.
i remember far too well
the days of driving up to our house
with a car full of groceries
and two small children
(one a babe in arms)
only to have to drive around the block a few times
and settle on a spot clear around the corner
from our building.

now we can leave the building
without fear of the children
darting out into traffic

we can always count on a parking space.
i don't have to worry about my kids wandering
off of the playground
while i'm not looking. . .

and of course
we have a big huge canvas
for chalk drawings--
all to ourselves.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

monkey challah

the first time
i had monkey bread
was on new years day
in a cozy cabin
with a fresh blanket of snow outside
and a crystal clear blue sky.
they were sticky, gooey, and delectable--
and were the perfect sustenance
for a morning of sledding
and angel-making in the snow.

we attempted it ourselves
this cool fall--
when milla found
a monkey bread version of a challah recipe
in her jewish traditions book.
and while the recipe itself
was not like that mastered version
i tasted at the cabin that morning,
the activity
got scrawled down
as a perfect one for their involvement.

the dough is quick & easy,
and then of course their favorite part,
the ball rolling.

and now if i can get my hands
on that other recipe,
it may just have to become a new years tradition
for us, too.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


when i so often feel that tap-tap
with that tiny hand with fingers spread wide
i look down to see him saying mama mama
and holding a book in the other hand--
and i know where we're headed.
i stand up and he makes certain
to grab my pointer finger with his fist
and lead me to the chair
where he taps with that hand splayed open
once again,
this time on the chair
to indicate what i am to do.
but i already know--
we do this many times a day.
i proceed to sit
then he climbs into my lap
and we read one of his favorites
like sunday with seurat
hippos go berserk!
and he asks for it again and again and again.
and when he's finally done,
he instructs me (without words)
to set it in the pile
while he runs for another one.
and we do this over and over again.

if there's one thing i've tried to give my children,
it's a love of reading.
and i can't even claim to be the best reader myself--
i'm certainly not.
but from the days of reading
on the day you were born
to milla
when she was just a few days old,
i have read to them
almost every single day.
i like games,
i like going to the park,
i like crafting. . .
but reading will always be
something. . .

something. . .


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

changing already

when they told me last night
that mid-october would be the perfect time
to catch the leaves changing in vermont,
i thought of what is already going on
outside my windows now.
and in between dreamy thoughts
of making a trip back to the eastern u.s.--
not only to see favorite friends
but to get a hit
of the city i could never get enough of--
the reality of my city
and the impending winter
was seeping in.

if i could count the number of songs i have heard
in russian
with the words кончается лето
(summer is ending)
there just could be a hundred thousand.
for a country that sustains
such a ruthless and seemingly endless winter
every year,
fall is ever too soon and ever too quick.

my mother-in-law was right
when she told me
those light jackets i bought in france
for the girls
wouldn't get much use.
because we go from shorts weather
to coat weather in just a matter of weeks.

and while it's rain rain rain right now,
we are still holding on to the hope
of the indian summer.
nature is usually kind enough
to allow us at least that.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

who am i?

this year there was no taking advantage
of america's gargantuan craft stores.
i was never in one place long enough
to begin any project.

but one thing i did do
was pull together a who am i? game
that was a hit
at the family reunion.

each person fills out a questionnaire
which are then posted around the walls
with envelopes attached at the bottom.

then each person is given
a little stack of names
(color-coded so the scorer knows
whose vote is whose)
which they drop into the envelopes
of the questionnaires--
their vote as to who that person is.

it was a hoot.
and how else would we have known
that all five children in my family
think that cleaning public restrooms
is the world's worst job?

let me know if you want the questionnaire.

Monday, September 5, 2011

the first day of first grade
is the first day at a new school
and is the first day
of a new life!

in fact
it's such a big deal here
that milla had 10 people in her fan club
that showed up to the schoolyard
to wish her well.

the sight is not one you can quickly forget.
a schoolyard full of anxious students,
all in their very best dress,
with their too-big backpacks, bows and braids and ties,
each holding a bouquet for the teacher
they have yet to meet.

the first grade class
is welcomed in by the entire school,
there's a skit, a song,
some words from the director. . .
(that's milla's teacher she's gazing at--
and she really likes him, despite the ponytail)

the parents and fan clubs
stand around watching their little ones
with adoration, anticipation & worry,
and a few fleeting thoughts
of this being the beginning of the end...

they then go into their classrooms
to find their seats,
still likely having no idea
of what awaits them ahead--
i.e. years and years of sitting at desks
and studying and reading and learning--
little realization of
what they have gotten themselves into
and to be honest,
the parents just may feel the same way.