Monday, March 19, 2012

london highlights

 it was exactly three years ago
that i spent my first week in london--
finding myself in awe at big ben, westminster abbey
and the tate modern.
though i was newly pregnant on that trip
and remember literally having to drag myself around
the exhaustion and the nausea
were just beginning to set in.

but this trip
was not tainted by such trial
and instead i had the energy and the freedom
of a bird,
with crisp, early spring weather
to breathe new life into my veins.

of course the number one delight
was reuniting with dear friends
and spending time with them
catching up, reminiscing and scheming future rendezvous,
but a few other highlights include:

-concert at st. martin in the fields
-the national gallery
-paul (the cafe, not your husband, linds)

-boat ride on the thames
-borough market (the comte!)
-dinner in the oxo tower
-seeing pitmen painters at the duchess theatre
(so good!)

-the geffrye musuem of interiors
-shopping at zara with pounds, not rubles!
-the french patisseries

-the blossoms, oh those magnolias!!!

-english bookstores
-the parks, the trees, the rowhouses!
-indian food
-and on my last night i miraculously scored a ticket
to an intimate soprano/harpsichord concert
in the handel house--
in the very room he himself composed in.

and back in moscow
my family held themselves together
without me, believe it or not.  
they gave me the warmest welcome
with balloons, cake, cards and a homemade dinner--
it almost felt like my birthday.

Saturday, March 10, 2012


we just had 3 days
of holiday.
international women's day
means days off--
off work, off school!
and so we were off to the country.
the girls broke in their new pairs
of cross-country skis,
the sun was shining,
and the air crisp.

and tomorrow
i find myself on a plane to london
to catch up with several of my lovely and favorite girl friends.
and so my days off
are just getting warmed up!
(london's 50 degrees is sounding quite warm to me).

you can find me on instagram
at jenbanner
if a postcard or two from london
would brighten your day.

and we'll see you next week!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

ceramic cups

my efforts to de-plasticize my house
probably began with my children's dinnerware.

it's definitely tough
to find something as practical as plastic, for sure.
for something that gets banged, thrown, dropped. . .

i love the bunny enamelware--
but when they get dropped, they chip, then they rust,
and their days are done.
the plate has lasted for us,
but both the bowl and the cute cup are goners.

but when i saw this post
about those cute la fermiere yogurt cups--
i started a little collection.
and one day realized
they are the perfect little cups for him.
the perfect size for his little hands,
ceramic, cute,
and come with delicious french yogurt inside.
and if one ever breaks
(which hasn't happened yet)
we'll just grab another one.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

reading russian

one thing about russian--
as hard a language as it is,
learning to read it
is really quite simple.

milla learned to read english first,
because we happened to be in america
for a couple months,
and my mother took it on.
she caught on very fast
and after that, russian came
without any effort.

now avi is about that age
and is learning how to read--
though russian, not english.
and even though it's not her favorite thing to do,
she does quite well.

i remember being so annoyed
when i was first learning russian
and i would ask somebody how to spell something,
and they would just say the word more slowly,
instead of spelling out the letters.
because every letter sounds the same
every time you meet it.
when i asked alex if they have
a "spelling" subject in school,
he laughed and said of course not.
if you can say the word, you know how to spell it.

and so i still have that daunting english
to teach her how to read--
which she's not going to get in school.
full of those:
"now this letter can sound like 
this, or like this, or like this,
or sometimes you don't hear him at all. . ."

i think i'll keep putting it off.

Friday, March 2, 2012

doctors & ice cream

it's sort of become a given now,
that treat that accompanies
a trip to the doctor.

milla happens to be
our worrier and our drama queen,
and so the impending trip to the doctor
is something that could keep her up at night.
she's so deathly scared of shots
(she swears she will never bear children
because of it--
even avi was saying today
that she wants to marry a man that already has children).
it's just a bit of pink eye,
and we've been to the eye doctor plenty of times,
so she didn't have too much to worry about,
though maybe it didn't help
when i joked that the doctor
was just going to take her eye out and paint it white again. . .

but we certainly made it through,
despite the old brute of a soviet doctor
who doesn't want to explain a thing--
you have to sit and pry information out of her
and she makes you feel like you are
really bothering her and wasting her time. . .
(never mind that she put her novel away
when you knocked on her door).
we came out with a prescription for some eye drops
and headed straight for the ice cream freezer.

and when i finished mine in a couple of minutes
i realized the book store wasn't going to let us in
with any dripping cones,
and so we had to stand on the street
for 15 more minutes
while milla licked away.
of course i asked her if she couldn't take a bite or two
to speed things up a bit,
but she kindly reminded me
that she couldn't--
she lost her top two front teeth last week.
and so we stood there a bit longer.
i let her enjoy it--
since she was about to go home
to scream bloody murder
about getting the drops put in her eyes.

it's tough to be seven.
and have pink eye.
and have to go to a soviet doctor.
and lose your two front teeth.
and have to get eye drops put in. . .