Tuesday, November 29, 2011

early training

someday i'm sure
he'll be grateful
that he had two sisters
who had the initiative and the drive
to see that his potty-training was begun
promptly at 2 years old.
they are awesome at talking him into going in,
encouraging him,
giving him an example of what to do
("see?  i'm doing it too!"),
getting his paper
and teaching him how to wipe (!!!)
and even entertaining him while he sits
("but mom, i really need your phone!")

he is doing great,
and i certainly don't to jinx myself,
but aren't boys supposed to be later at this stuff
than girls?
maybe it's just their good influence?

Friday, November 25, 2011


thanksgiving is all about blessings.
family and memories.
it's not about the fact that
the beverly hills diner's version
of a thanksgiving dinner
paled in comparison to a home-cooked one,
or that fact that i was the only one missing
from my family back home. . .

it was about celebration
and spending time together
and alex getting off work early for us
and taking the metro to red square together
and playing air hockey over and over again
and bundling up for the cold
and walking around red square
as they were setting up the ice skating rink
and laughing at the stray dog
that was following us for so long
(we were carrying left-over turkey with us)
and admiring the massive christmas tree
and staying up ooooh so late
laughing and skyping with everyone back home

and then counting all those
many many many
before nodding off to sleep.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

thanksgiving eve

why am i showing you
milla's new pastry mat?
because i love it--
it's even better than my old silpat. . .
thinner, flimsier but sturdy,
and milla just loves those "pizza circles."
(i got it at williams-sonoma this summer)

and tonight,
on this thanksgiving eve,
she was nice enough to lend it to me.
and so you can only imagine
under what aromas wafting from the kitchen
i sit here now. . .
well, let's just say,
it starts with brown sugar pumpkin pie
and ends with toasted pecan crust.
i haven't yet tried the pumpkin part,
but i can tell you that every pie for the rest of my life
may just have to be made with this crust.
and so if you're in charge of pies this year--
this may be right up your alley.

alex and i finally decided
just tonight after the kids were in bed
exactly how we are going to spend our thanksgiving,
in the absence of extended family or close friends.
and it won't so much be traditional,
but if i can't be with
my 50 close and beloved family members
who are gathering tomorrow,
we'll branch out a bit
and go unconventional.

and now to check on that pie. . .

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

all for us!

this is our humble little courtyard.

it may not look like much to you,
but to us it's awesome.

when we moved in a year ago,
it was nothing more than dirt
and a little sandbox.
in the springtime
they brought in that old swing on the right.
and just recently
they put in the rubber covering
and a brand-new playground.
now i won't say anything
about the mayor's new bus lane (shaking fist)
but i will commend him
on putting this playground in just for us
(since we happen to have the only children
in the building).

woo hoo!!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

check the date!

and so i checked the date yesterday
and indeed,
christmas is not too far away.
(okay i admit
i've let myself listen to the christmas playlist
a couple of times already--
it's cold outside!!!)
and with all that is on my plate right now
which is things not a few,
i was still on the ball enough
to remember that i made some holiday notes last year--
notes to self
for the next holiday season.
what did i find?

1) get the gifts bought before december!!!!!!!!!!
(i must have written this after spending hours
in the december traffic which is
notoriously horrendous)

2) make a tree skirt
(i hope we're buying a full-size tree this year!)

3) prepare the advent activities and crafts
in advance (i sat down to this yesterday)

4) watch it's a wonderful life!
(i still have never seen this.  please tell
me i still fit into some category of normal)

5) make a wreath.
(i've already nearly finished one,
thanks to that class last week!)

6) don't forget the wassail.
(did i forget this last year???)

7) get a nativity.

nativities are very committal i feel like.
since i don't think i'm going to be one of those
that collects nativities from around the world,
i just want one.
and i don't think i'm going to find the perfect one
(since i don't even know
what i want yet)
this year.

what are not committal though
are tree decorations.
this year i found these old vintage ornaments
that i think are dashing.
(please just don't let my little one
dash them--
he seems to be full of trouble
ever since he turned two three weeks ago. . .)

it's time to be on the ball!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

new & old bolshoi

babushka gifted the girls
tickets to cipollino
at the "new stage" of the bolshoi theatre.
and so we played hooky from school for a day
and even dad joined us--
sitting there on the second row of the balcony.

we stopped for a second in front of the
"old bolshoi theatre"
which actually just reopened
after at least five years of major reconstruction.
now there is all sorts of confusion
(at least in my own head)
about what to call what.
as the "new stage" was built to house the troops
during the reconstruction,
well now it's more like the old stage,
and the old one the new stage,
but officially that one is called new
and i guess they've created the official name
for the old one to be called
the historical stage,
even though it looks new, but it's old.
are you confused now too?

though we have yet to visit the
"historical stage"--
though i'm dying to get there
for the nutcracker this christmas--
because nobody in moscow can get tickets.
the scalpers have bought up every ticket
for every night.
in fact i heard on the radio yesterday
that they are going to start requiring passports
to buy tickets, in an effort
to curb the hoarders,
who are selling tickets for $400 a piece or more.

we'll get back there someday,
when all this stuff settles down a bit--
and when i've figured out what to call that stage anyway.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

avi's day

this summer her cousin
had a bowling birthday party.
if only she hadn't sprained her ankle
the day before,
jumping off of that table with her cousin,
she may have been in better form
for such an activity.
of course nothing stops children.
we wheeled her there in a stroller--
and every time it was her turn to bowl,
her cousins would wheel her up to the lane,
set her ball up on the ramp
and she'd push it down on its way
toward those pins
with perfect satisfaction
at being part of the group,
despite a temporary handicap.

this time of year
it was her turn to be in the spotlight--
and she chose a bowling party.
in these parts such a thing is a bit novel,
as i think all the russians were attending
their first ever bowling party.
and because of that
let's just say
it was a bit "chaotic" . . .
we did get the names up there on the board,
but it was pretty much anyone throws a ball
whenever they want
as long as the pins don't happen to be getting reset.

we also had pippi longstocking there
to entertain the kids
when they weren't busy dropping 10-lb. balls
(i still can't believe my 2-year-old
didn't get a foot broken).
i tell you,
hiring those entertainers is some of the 
smartest birthday decisions we've made. . .

and then there was the mille-feuille cake
which we requested with extra whipped cream
that i'm not ashamed to say
i had two or three pieces of.
and with her name scrawled across the front,
well her little 5-year-old heart
was perfectly content.

and the packing up of the gifts
and the untying of the balloons to take home
officially marked the end
of another round of birthdays,
for another year gone by!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

house full

there's one other great thing
in the wake of a celebration,
among the shrinking balloons,
the torn wrapping paper,
the leftover cake,
and the calm of a storm blown over.

it's a house full of fresh flowers.

i love a flower-giving culture.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

little confectioners

milla's birthday party
the morning after the dinner, the presents,
the cupcakes and the circus.

in line with her dream
of one day owning
her own confectionery shop,
we put together
a little confectioner's party
at the old росфронт candy factory.

the little ones all got to try their sticky hands
at making their own little chocolates--
licking spoons and chocolaty fingers
all the way.
and if even just for a morning,
milla's (barely) 7-year-old dreams came true!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

andreas' birthday

we tried last year
to have one big party
for all three kids,
although when they were born
so close together i swore i'd never do it.

but when the third was born
on the first's birthday,
and when they have all the same friends anyway,
it almost seemed to make sense,
rather than invite all the same people
10 days apart.
so we held it on the 28th,
the birthday of the two,
and then made sure to do lots of fun things
and even have another cake
on avi's birthday, 10 days later.
but she always referred to the party
as "milla's party," anyway.
and i knew that plan wasn't going to work anymore.
and so 3 parties it was/is.

we started the festivities on friday--
while the girls were at school
andreas and i took a stroll to the park
where we did his favorite thing:
watching the horses at the riding school.

then we bought
a bunch of balloons,
which he had no problem hogging to himself.

we opened some presents.

we blew out candles on our cupcakes

and then we went to the circus.

and with that,
our little baby turned 2,
never to return to 1 again.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

half-hearted halloween

i will admit
that my approach to halloween
is fairly half-hearted.
with not only a husband that doesn't believe in it
but a country that doesn't believe in it,
it's mostly for romance's sake--
for giving my children
a piece of my childhood and my culture--
that we do it at all.
without halloween costumes being sold in every store,
and my lack of ambition for the whole ordeal
i ask my children what they would like to be
and then if it's not something easy
i try to persuade them.
milla insisted on "daphne from scooby doo"
which we could more or less manage,
and when avi said cinderella,
well, i thought perfect,
you mean, cinderella getting married, right?
and we pulled out the old costume from two years ago
(i have a total of two halloween costumes stored away)
which had to be hemmed up then
but fits perfect now.
and she's done.
the baby?
well, let's just say
i came across some friends halfway through
trick-or-treating that gave him
a little puppy costume to throw over his coat,
which we returned when we were done
and that was that!

the kids had a great time
and we checked off halloween for this year
(already 10 days ago).
oh, but don't worry,
we did carve a pumpkin on sunday night.
that one i don't let slip by
now i'm just trying to find a recipe
to chop him into.

it's pumpkin season!!!