Wednesday, February 29, 2012

christmas treasures

yes i realize
that christmas was already 2 months ago,
but i never did get a chance
to write about ours.
and when i stumbled upon
that gift from the girls
from the bottom of their big little hearts,
i had to etch it into the
"things mom will never forget" book.

i still remember the night when they thought
to go about their secret business.
we still haven't made much of an effort
to include them in the gift-giving business
at christmas time.
all the gifts just end up being from us.
and so as i was busy in my room
going about my secret business
with the scotch tape and the ribbons,
they also wanted to participate.
and they asked for a little cloth gift bag
that i had among my boxes--
and then they disappeared into their room,
only to emerge ever-so-proudly
twenty minutes later
with a bulging gift bag,
with a gift tag lovingly addressed
to "mom and dad" from "milla and avi."
and my anticipation on christmas morning
may have been as great as theirs
to open that sweet little gift
they had prepared.
and the contents:
-a clay heart on a broken toothpick
made at kindergarten by avi
-a wooden folk doll painstakingly painted by avi
at the craft festival last fall
-a pair of wings from united airlines
they got years ago
-a clay pyramid made by milla at school
-a little porcelain doll given to them by grandma--
well justified my anticipation,
that little bag was so full of love
of the tenderest kind.
even though they told me
they still would like to be able
to play with one of the items,
if they ever wanted to. . .

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


the girls' favorite momento
they put into their suitcases in israel
were these mini mosaics.
after all the different mosaics we saw,
the loaves and the fishes at tabgha,
the ruins at masada,
the church of all nations at gethsemane. . .
it was a fitting piece of israel
for them to take home.

avi chose the menora
and milla the pomegranate.
and they spent hours
placing all those little stones in just the right spot,
then cementing them all in,
and washing them clean.

and anytime they were not looking,
i found myself placing some little tiles
because i couldn't help it.
i regretted not getting bringing one home myself.
a big one.

if it fit in with my decor a little better
i'd put a few in my home.
why is it such a lost art?

Monday, February 20, 2012


friday night found us
at a masquerade ball at the ritz-carlton--
a charity fundraiser
for the international women's club.

although the girls
were most disappointed
when i came home with my dress for the ball
and they didn't find any petticoats, bows,
lace, sequins or hoop-skirts,
and of course also asked
if perhaps they would be able to go next year?
(they do have the petticoats. . .!)

we had the most enjoyable company
of alex's parents
who happen to be very accomplished dancers
who certainly showed us up,
though quite humbly.
alex and i did make a bit of an attempt,
amidst recommitting ourselves again
to those dance lessons.

but the mimes, the music,
the artists, the ballet dancers,
the canapes, the soloists,
the atmosphere. . .
i almost felt myself back in the 18th century!

Friday, February 17, 2012

ilana's granola bars

how many hundred years has it been
since i posted a recipe?

this is what i haven't been able
to keep my hands out of lately.

ilana's granola bars
(taken straight from ilana, alex's relative
who lives on a kibbutz in israel)

2 cups oats
3/4 cups sugar
1 cup flour
2 T honey
2/3 cup butter
1/2 t soda

melt butter and honey together
then combine with remaining ingredients.
spread in glass baking dish
and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 min until browned.
cut while still warm.

we did ending up adding one egg
for the right consistency--
which will probably depend on your oats
and your butter choice.
but they were delicious either way--
and super easy.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

mid-week date

i know not everyone
gets into valentines day,
but i love any excuse
for alex to take me out
right in the middle of the week.
even if it means he couldn't get off soon enough
and there was the notorious v-day traffic
which nearly shuts down the city
and i had to stand and wait for him in the cold
when we met by arbat.
and because of that
we had to go to the concert a bit hungry
and save our dining for afterwards.

he took me to see the puppini sisters
at the estrada theatre on the river--
those sassy retro british girls
who dance, play violins & accordians
and sing with lovely voices.

and after that
we walked through the snowy night
down the river a bit
to the strelka bar
and met dasha & misha for a late dinner
with virgin mojitos and the pecan maple tart for dessert--
all well worth the growling stomach
during the concert.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

v day

happy happy
st. valentine's day!

i stayed up late on sunday
to pull together a little something
for my girls
which i have been meaning to do for a long time
but needed a deadline for,
if you know what i mean.
they loved finding the little necklaces
and valentines with their names on them
at the breakfast table this morning.
and i loved that school was finally cancelled
for milla because of the cold--
in fact she was home sick yesterday anyway
and we have been laying low at home,
reminiscing about the days
we were all home together all the time!
we turned up zaz
to accompany our lazy breakfast
and then spent time crafting, playing games,
music, reading books together etc.

and tonight,
alex promises a lineup of festivities--
and in fact he just called
and i'm off to get dressed!

Friday, February 10, 2012


and now,
if you'll recall with me,
we were having a new bed made.
and how, you may ask,
did that "long month" turn into two years?
(where does the time go?)
well let's just say. . .
we ended up choosing france that summer
over a new bed.

and since then, it's been a long road back.
first there was the move,
then there was the first hurdle
which was to purchase a new mattress
we desperately needed.
how long we slept on that old squeaky bed
which woke both of us,
every time somebody would turn over.
and then after finally getting a new mattress
we got rid of the bed--
preferring the floor
to that old squeaky thing.
though by that point, the end was in sight.

in december we finally pulled everything together again,
got the old drawings out--
picked the paint, the finish, the fabric. . .

and finally, finally!
she was delivered this week
and graces our bedroom.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

girls night out

last night
was girls' night out:
mom, grandma and the girls
froze ourselves to the newly renovated
moscow conservatory
for works by
rimsky-korsakov, taneyev, and tchaikovsky.
we landed ourselves front row seats
and found ourselves right under
the cello section.
it made it all the more interesting
for the young viewers--
of which i really have to be proud of--
sometimes i'm amazed they sit through
two hours so well
(and won't leave when given the choice
during the intermission).
i love to answer their random questions
all through the concert--
to get a glimpse of what's going through their minds
during those two hours.
i myself was thoroughly fascinated
watching the conductor,
yuri simonov,
who was artistically masterful
and must be an actor during the day.

and my own little actress
kept us warm by having us play choo-choo train
all the way back to the car afterwards.


Friday, February 3, 2012

little swimmers

there's definitely something
about making your children
into something you are not--on purpose
(i.e. making sure they don't end up like you).
i guess i never really learned how to swim
because we didn't ever swim much
when i was a kid.
no pool in the backyard, no neighborhood pool--
so i was never into it.

my husband is a great swimmer.
and we put the girls in their first swim lessons
when they were two and four.
but now this year we've had them going
twice a week
and the progress is amazing.
in fact,
i was telling alex just the other day,
it's becoming scary for me.
i used to be able to sit and watch them
be scared or reserved--
sympathetic when they didn't want to put their heads in.
but now instead
i watch them play in the deep end of the pool
for as long as i will let them,
while i hold my own breath--
milla diving to the bottom for six rings at a time,
avi doing crazy jumps,
flat on her stomach, or onto somebody else--
she's not afraid.

i marvel at how they have adapted.
how easily they can do something i can't.
how brave they are.
how moldable, how teachable.