Thursday, December 31, 2009

Dasvidaniya Moscow!

It's New Year's Day at 12:45 AM and Tami and the girls are now asleep. I'm about to hit the couch and hopefully fall asleep. I leave for the airport in 8 hours and will bid Moscow farewell until my next visit. It's been a full and jam packed two weeks with so much fun.

I'll blog more about the week once I'm home and settled with my dachshund, Liesel. She's been away at what I call the doggie spa.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Red Square

Tuesday we drove to a restaurant Tami and the girls love not too far from the Kremlin. We had a delicious lunch and then had the task of choosing from the array of gorgeous, fancy pastries.

We went to the Matrishka Museum that another expat had posted about and spent some time there. Worth going to if you are visiting the City and have the time. Then we battled the snow and very cold weather to walk by the Kremlin. Rachael, Cecelia, Jack and Katya - It is the park that runs along the Kremlin wall where we stopped to snack and enjoyed all the spring tulip beds. The entrance to Red Square was blocked so we had to walk all around and went into GUM. We walked around there looking at the expensive shops and the beautiful holiday decorations. They erected a huge wooden slide that the girls enjoyed climbing up and going down quite a few times. They even had a 5 piece band playing and the music was all American. The cafe was outside in the open part of GUM so we overlooked the slide, watched the musicians and people. I ordered a hot chocolate and it came in a small cup and was thick, melted chocolate like a pudding that hasn't set. Tami ordered me a hot, frothy milk so I could put some of the chocolate in it. What came was lukewarm milk not frothy so I had chocoate milk.

While sitting on a bench by the slide in GUM while Tami and the girls went to put on their snowpants, I made some observations:

Russian children are very cute.
Why do cute Russian little boys grow up into unattractive Russian men?
Russian young women are very fashionable, wear very short skirts and especially in their bitterly cold winters, many are light blondes, many are a size 6, many are attractive and they wear the craziest stiletto heeled or platform boots to navigate their poorly plowed sidewalks and streets.
I saw one snow plow and one snow blower all day and it snowed all day and evening long.
There are no city parking bans so the plows can actually clean the streets from the storms. In the US, this would not happen.
Sidewalks are not cleared well. It is not safe for the elderly or pregnant women to be out walking.
If people park real crazy during normal weather, you should see it during a snowstorm.
People of all ages love to skate. I saw from kindergarten age to a lady in her 60's bundled up in her long fur coat and hat.
People don't seem to mind the cold as the streets are full of people walking all over the city, moms pushing baby carriages and groceries.
You don't see many old men but lots of old women. Men smoke and drink more and die much younger. See, we women are much smarter!

The highlight was the elaborate, cute structure erected right in Red Square for ice skaing for the winter (outdoor rink). Tami brought their skates but they do have skate rentals, a nice warm building to put skates on and a bag check area. It is the most famous place in Russia to skate. They skated and I enjoyed watching. Since I have not been on figure skates since Tami was around in junior high, I thought it was wise not to tempt fate as I would not want another broken arm and especially in Russia.

Some people really were skating too fast and when she thought some had been drinking she and the girls called it a night. As we were leaving, there was a group of about 4 or 5 that had sparklers on the ice. Real smart, skating with sparklers that could hurt someone of someone's coats. Only in Russia.....

She is going to take the girls next week but fairly early in the AM before it gets crowded.

We wanted to get into Red Square for pictures and then to hitchhike back to our car but it was closed off and guards would not let us through.

We walked back around the back of GUM and there was a winter market with lots of vendors and a wooden little sled track. Each end had a raised platform that the kids climbed stairs up so they went down an incline pretty fast (but it wasn't too high).

It was a late night by time we got back to the car and had the traffic coming back home.

What tears at my heart is to see really elderly women on the sidewalks begging. What a gut wrenching site. Part of their society. I also hate seeing all the stray dogs and cats and don't know how they survive being out in the cold.

It's late so excuse any typos.

Troika Ride

I finally had my dream come true! I went on a troika ride like in Doctor Zhivago with Tami and the girls at Kolomenskoe.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

French Bakery - 3 small cheese rolls and a pistachio eclaire

The end to a busy day! Sound good? They were!

Too tired to blog. Days very full and busy, home late (crazy Moscow traffic). Off to troika sleigh ride tomorrow. Time flying by too quickly.

P.S. Sinuses much, much better. I keep popping those pills I brought w/me.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sinuses Gotcha Down?

My sinuses are crappy and that's how my head feels. I did go to Natalia's program this morning but am not up for the long ride to and from the party at the ritzy dacha (classmate of Katya's). My SIL is also suffering from sinus problems and we both were planning to stay home and then Natalia wanted to stay home with us. Tami and Katya were going to go but now Katya wants to stay home so everyone will be home. I think the girls are just tired.

The school doctor (a friend of Tami's) checked me out after the class program and wrote down what Tami needed to buy for me at the pharmacy. We stopped on our way home but I don't feel any different. Of course, it's only been 5 hours so I can't expect a miracle. Sure hope the meds kick in by tomorrow and that this doesn't lead into a sinus infection (which I get about once every year or two). This also could be allergy related as they have 2 long hair cats and I'm allergic to cats. I would think if that were the case, then it would have started within a day of my arrival.

I'm really bummed as I really wanted to go and see this dacha complete with an outside "room" and the boy's treehouse.

The parents of Katya's classmate invited the entire class and their families. It was my chance to see how the "other half" here in Moscow lived.

Natalia's Christmas School Program

We all were out bright and early to go to Natalia's class holiday program. Natalia was so cute in a baby blue leotard with an attached skirt and fairy wings. Her mom had her hair in elaborate French braids with hair clips. She was an angel in the program. She and two other girls sang "All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth" and it's true for her as only one of her permanent front top teeth has come in. The entire program lasted about 40 minutes and ended with all the 1st graders being given chocolates.

Some annoying boy from Katya's class was right in front of Tami and he kept getting up and down so at times she couldn't video the program. His stupid mother was sitting right next to him and she never stopped it. This is the same rude mother that kept trying to talk to Tami during the piano recital on Thursday and whose cell phone rang several times (during the piano recital)and she answered it and talked. If that happened to me back in the US, I would not sit there without saying something. How can children learn to behave during performances if the mother can't even do the correct thing? Guess I'll get off my bandwagon.

I am soooooo glad that I was here to attend their piano recital and their class holiday performances. The kids in the class, and especially my granddaughters, were so cute and did such a wonderful job.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Katya's Christmas School Program

Natalia and Katya went to school, Chris went to the Health Club, Katya had to be at school for an hour or so and I was home alone with the cats in the late morning/early afternoon. I thought I'd read on the couch and never even opened the book but napped instead.

We went to Katya's school in the midafternoon for her third grade Christmas program. Katya had some starring roles and even got to single a solo. I thoroughly enjoyed the program (all in English) and seeing her perform with her schoolmates. It was funny being in Moscow in December 2009 and seeing the kids perform to rock 'n roll Christmas music from the 50's in the US and English Christmas caroles. Parents and families were all invited.

After picking Natalia up at school, we headed home to our jammies for a quiet evening.

Natalia's school program is tomorrow at 10:00.

I started with sinus congestion and the runny nose last night and am on cold pills and Mucinex. Hope it doesn't get worse and go into a sinus infection.

It's Christmas morning back at home in the States so I know what you all are doing

Christmas Morning in Moscow

The girls did not get us up early. They were up for quite a time before we all went into the living room to see what Santa had left. The jolly old man was very quiet as my inflatable mattress is on the living room floor and he didn't wake me up.

The girls were thrilled with their Santa gifts and played with them before changing to head off to school. They were not expected to be there for school at the regular time this morning since it was our Christmas.

I'm staying home this morning and not going with Tami to her 4th grade play rehearsal. She'll just be gone for an hour or so and then be back here for the afternoon.

We adults will go to Katya's school early to save front row seats for the 3rd grade holiday performance this afternoon.

We are doing family gifts later in the weekend not to have an overload and to also allow for wrapping time. Mine are just about all wrapped as I had time the other morning.

Back in the US, Santa is flying around as it's 2:15 in the morning in CT. Merry Christmas to all of you.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The stockings are placed

by the big window with care in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there. There's no mantle in the Moscow apt. so they can't be hung. The girls are FINALLY asleep and we are all heading to bed too.

Today was school and I went w/Natalia for the morning. Then Tami came for me and we came home to do some Xmas things are were back at school for play rehearsal around 3:30. After that it was over to Natalia's school w/Katya for their piano recital. Both girls played a solo and they a duet together. I was so happy and proud to be there.

Can you believe this one ignorant, rude mother did not shut off her cell phone and spoke on it a few times. She also kept trying to speak to Tami during the recital. If it had been the US, I would have given her my "looks could kill" stare. Her sons also were fidgety and annoying. The two 1 1/2 - 2 year little brother of one of the girls performing was far better behaved. Also, one boy had full bangs and shoulder length hair and I first thought he was a girl.

Russian people are insane about their cell phone and always have them in their hands. Will the world come to an end if they have a call that goes to their voice mail? Natalia's teacher's phone must have rung 3 or 4 times but she ignored it but for the first call. Tami said it is usually parents calling the teachers. Hello, don't they realize the teachers are probably busy teaching their darling children?

Katya and Natalia did beautifully in their piano recital as did the other pianists. There were a few violin students and their playing was painful but we sat there attentively listening, smiling and clapping at the end.

Tami is the only parent that I saw with flowers for the piano teacher. Also the only parent that I saw with floral bouquets for her children performing.

We came home, ate homemade chili she'd made this afternoon, showered and tried to get the girls in bed but you know how that is.

Merry Christmas!

P.S. My sinuses started to fill up and I have a runny nose. Popped an allergy pill tonight around 9:00 and my Lunesta arund 11:00 so hope I'll sleep well.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Moscow Update: Days 4 & 5

I was wiped out from all the back and forth on Monday and getting home after 8:30 PM after Tami's English tutoring at Katy'a school that evening.

Tuesday I spent the day with Katya at her school. We started the morning off going to school in our pajamas as Tami showed "The Grinch" to the 3rd and 4th graders and they all came in their pajamas. They are advanced enough in their English lessons and were able to understand the movie and get the true meaning from it. The kids loved it, being able to come to school in pajamas and have hot chocolate and ginger cookies. Chocolate is not allowed in school so that was also a big treat. After that, everyone changed into their regular clothes and school began. They have a full day with all the same subjects as here at home. There are 19 (an unusally large class) and 2 teachers. Students are served a hot breakfast, lunch (starting with soup and then a full meal) and light meal around 5:00. School officially ends mid afternoon but most students stay for school clubs, physical activities, theater, music lessons, etc. The students are given time to do their homework after school too. Most go home around 7:00 after activities. In the US, we drive our kids to sports, private music lessons, dance lessons, akido, theater, ceramics, art, etc. At their school, it's all there after school so it's so convenient for working parents.

After we left last night, we had to stop at the grocery store as we'd run out of bottled water and cat food.

Once we are home, the girls shower, put out clolthes for the next day, have a bite and hopefully are in bed by 9:30. Children here go to bed late as school starts at 9:00 and the school is only a few minutes by car and walkable (but only when with an adult).

I was exhausted and had a hard time staying awake several times during the school day. One of the reasons could be that the school is kept too hot and gets very stuffy.

After the girls were in bed, Tami did grades (due on Wed.) while we watched a DVD.

This morning I stayed home and slept in. I opened my eye at 8:30 (everyone had gone) to check the time and went right back to sleep and only got up at 10:30. Guess my body was making up for my lack of sleep the week I left for Moscow as I had so much to do getting ready to leave. Tami came back for me and we went to Katya's school for her parent/teacher conference (very good) and then did a few errands. She dropped me off and later went back for the girls. They are just getting to bed and I should wrap some Xmas gifts.

We'll only do Santa's gifts on the morning of the 25th as we have to be at school in the afternoon for Katya's class Christmas assembly. We'll do family gifts another day.

Our schedule: Thursday AM I go to school with Natalia for several hours, 4:00 back to school for piano recital for both girls. Friday AM See gifts from Santa and then the girls go to school, late afternoon we adults join the girls at school for Katya's class Christmas performance. Saturday 10 AM Natalia's class Christmas performance and then we go to the country dacha of one of Katya's classmates. I'm told it's QUITE THE DACHA. Katya's entire class (and parents and sibblings) are invited.

Are you tired just reading our schedule? Add to this all the snow that is all over the streets and brown slop. Streets are NOT cleared like in the US and there is no way they can be as there are cars parked everywhere. People even park on sidewalks here. The US police would go nuts.

It has warmed up and felt quite balmy today. I checked and it was above freezing.

Tami and I went to a charming little Belgium restaurant this afternoon for a late lunch. Outside was a very elderly lady sitting on a piece of cardboard begging. It tore my heart out. Tami bought her a turkey sandwich and put some Russian rubbles in with it. Living in the burbs at home insults us from the very poor. Seeing people with so, so little makes one stop and think how fortunate we are. One had to just look along the sidewalk and see people wearing expensive fur coats and hats to this poor lady with nothing. I would find it hard to see this on a daily basis. This is not unique to Moscow as it's the same in NYC.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Moscow Update: Days 1 - 3

I was fortunate to be flying out of JFK on Friday ahead of the big East Coast blizzard. I took a limo shuttle to JFK and left the driving to someone else. It's also nice being dropped off at the terminal and especially when one has 3 huge suitcases, a carry-on that must have weighed 40 lbs. and a "pocketbook" that could hold your clothes for a weekend away. My girlfriend and I had weighed my suitcases at home and all were just at the limit. Well, the Delta scales said one was 57 and one was 56 lbs. so I did the shuffle at the check-in. Fortunately I was the only one in line. Everything went through OK. At the Security check, I was told my carry-on was too fat so I had to go out of line and remove a few things and put them into my "pocketbook" and also trash my water bottle. Once through, I put the things back into my carry-on and expanded it. The reason that I was bringing so much is that I had Xmas gifts and my daughter had done a "bit" of online shopping.

I bought another water and went to sit in the eating area and discovered that my nice ham and cheese sandwich I'd made that morning was still home in my frig. I went back to the food vendor area and bought something healthy. Since my carry-on and "pocketbook" were so heavy and I was also lugging my Nanook of the North down coat, I didn't go browse the shops but headed down to the gate and read magazines.

The Delta flight was fully booked but since I was early, there were plenty of seats at the gate. I had someone sitting next to me on the flight so I couldn't spread out. I did take the complimentary glass of wine and thought it might make me a little drowsy. I donned my sleep mask and earplugs, blew up my neck pillow and settled in for the long night's flight after dinner. I did cat nap but it was not what I'd call a deep sleep.

My daughter was waiting for me and ALL MY LUGGAGE. We got a second pushcart and off we went to her car. Traffic was heavy which is nothing unusual for Moscow. Yes Stacy, she had to stop at IKEA. I wanted to go in and have her take my picture holding another toilet brush (like last May) but time was running out so I stayed in the car at the pick-up area parking while she ran in for heart shaped gingerbread cookies. Katya's class is going to be decorating them for their parents. We were then off to their health club and made it in time to see Katya's swim meet. She won second place. We had blinzes at their restaurant and then headed off to the vegetable market.

We walked through a maze of vendors to the stand where she always buys her produce. They know her by name. As soon as the owner saw me, he commented that I was her mother. I could get the gist of the conversation even though I don't speak Russian. I almost fell over when she told me what she bought cost $116 and we didn't have all that much. Living here is so expensive.

Across the aisle from the vegetable vendor was a meat vendor. Seeing that would almost make one become a vegetarian. The meat was just laid out on a tile counter, no covering over it or refrigeration. Imagine it in the heat of the summer. For those of you wondering, my daughter does NOT buy her meat there. Tami took my picture with it in the background and she'll post it on her blog (

Then we went to a spice vendor. Afterwards, she told me she diverted my attention so I would not see the cockroaches and scream. Give me the good old USA grocery stores!!!!

We came home, I unpacked all the luggage, we ate a late, light supper and went to bed. Fortunately I'd forgotten the Lunesta prescription here last May and so I popped one of those pills and went right to sleep and actually slept quite well.

Day 2: Slept in until around 8:30 and we were off at 10:00 to the Olympic ice complex to see Nutcracker on Ice. Their nanny came along for the show and we met the school doctor there as he was using my SIL's ticket. Chris had to work at the office. The ice show was gorgeous and it's debute was here in Moscow but it will be going on the road. We came home, I took a nap and dinner guests came at 6:00. This family is Russian but they speak fluent English as he went to Northwestern in Chicago for post law school grad school and Tami tutors their two girls in English. They are so nice and I really enjoyed our evening with them. They had to leave early as it was a school night. Tami and I cleaned up the kitchen, Chris had gone back to the office to work and we girls all went to bed. Popped another Lunesta and was off to sleep. I am used to sleeping in the pitch dark with not a sound and last May had a very hard time sleeping here but it is darker now since it's winter and somehow the traffic sounds are muffled. I do not take pills to sleep at home.

Day 3: I was half awake when Tami popped in right before 8:00 as they were off to school. Chris had already gone to the health club to work out before work. I'm spending the day in my jammies until she comes for me at 2:00. I'll go back to school with her for her last part of the day. After school on Mondays, she tutors English to some of the teachers so I'll be there with her. The nanny will get the girls from school, give them dinner and get them ready for bed. I'd do laundry but don't know how to operate the washer and dryer. I am going to lounge on the couch and read and wrap some Xmas presents.

Late afternoon: I stretched out on the couch around 11:00 with my book and the next thing I knew, it was 1:45. Guess I needed the extra sleep. Tami picked me up around 3:00 and we went over to the school for about an hour and a half. The lady that works in the caf fed me a homecooked hot meal starting with a delicious soup. The kids and teachers are fed 3 meals a day - all hot and homecooked. We're now back at the apt. and she is emailing the Visa agency about registering my visa as there is not an easy way to do it as they want the apt. landlady to do stuff. That is impossible. I have to register on Wed. at the latest. Russian Red Tape! We'll go back to the school as Tami tutors English to some of the teachers from the elementary school. I don't have any jet lag and my body has caught up from my lack of sleep. Taking the long nap today was beneficial. I am lucky that I don't suffer from jet lag.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Countdown to Moscow

So I got up at 5:15 after less than 4 hours sleep. I only got to bed at 12:30 and was just falling asleep when some jerk called here at 1:00. I looked at Caller ID and it was not a number I knew, so I swore at the caller and slammed the phone down. I was MAD! Went into work before 7:00 and thought I'd get a head start. I had planned to leave at 12:00 but just was too busy and don't like to leave things hanging so it was after 1:00. I had some errands to do and finally was home and settled around 4:30 after running in and out once.

I needed to pay bills but first I had to sort through the mountain of paper to find them all. I was in the midst of that when a friend came by to pick up gifts for his kids and to look at my leaking roof from up in the attic as he will give it a temporary fix when it warms up and the snow is gone.

Fortunately my dear friend came over to rescue me and we tackled the rest of the massive packing. If it were just clothes, I'd have been done ages ago but it is all the other stuff (books, Bath & Body Works, DVDs, American Girl, Webkinz, candles, etc. that all have to be packed. Then the fun job is to weigh the suitcases. I get on the scale and weigh myself (almost cry when I see the number) and then pick up a suitcase and get back on. This is backbreaking and to add to it, I have to do it over and over as the scale is acting up and keeps saying error. Of course, they were all over 50 lbs. so it's then the job to remove what we think is the overage and get back on. Then it's under so we slowly add things back and keep weighing. The good part is that it's done and the 3 50 lb. suitcases are by the door. The carry-on is packed and I just have to change pocketbooks.

I have to still finish paying bills and make a dumpster run. Oh yes, it's 10:25 P.M. and 10 degrees outside (just checked). My body aches and I have a headache. I am showing signs of fatigue and age.

I decided to be comfy and will be traveling in my knit cotton pants that are sort of like sweats, a sweatshirt and turtleneck and my crocs (with sox). I don't care as I want to be comfortable and I won't know anyone at JFK or on the plane.

I have had late nights every night all week and my alarm will be going off at 5:00 tomorrow to do last minute things and bring Liesel to doggie daycare at 6:45. She'll be there all day and then be going home with the owner. She did the same when I went to Moscow in May and she loved it. It was her doggie spa vacation getaway. It's nice going away and knowing my dog is so happy and well cared for.

Signing off.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Waiting for new suitcase to arrive from Lands End

Waiting for rest of online orders to arrive today

Bills to pay

Finish packing

A "to do" list a mile long at work


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Flannel, Sleet and Packing

It's been a real stay at home day in my flannel and sweatshirt with Liesel. When I woke up, the sun was shinning and I had a fleeting thought to get up early, wash the fleece sheets and hang them out. It's good that I decided that I decided to stay in bed as it clouded over and the sleet started. Later in the day, it turned to rain.

I had laundry going most of the day, made an egg custard, put kielbasa in the crock pot and went about gathering everything for Moscow. I've been collecting things for the trip since my daughter and the girls left in August. I was quite organized about it and started putting it all in the open suitcase on her bedroom floor. As the collection grew, the overflow was on the floor by the suitcase. As we got deeper into fall, the pile grew and grew. When things started coming in the mail from my daughter's online shopping, I started another pile in the living room. The past two weeks, there was also stuff in the kitchen among my cards and gift wrap. Early this afternoon, I brought it all into the living room along with the suitcases and a box of sandwich baggies and dug in. About 5 hours later, I have one suitcase just about full, a second full but for my last minute clothes and a neat pile waiting for the third suitcase.

I decided I needed to buy a new large suitcase as the third one here has a zipper that I don't trust and it lost its pulls. Once it's full, I'd never be able to close it so I'll be at TJ Maxx on my way home from work tomorrow. I could have gotten dressed late this afternoon and gone there but it was too much of an effort.

I have everything ready for the carry-on suitcase and will do that tomorrow night too.

I had to keep Liesel out of the living room which she wasn't happy about as she likes to be where I am. She stationed herself at first on the other side of the gate and then gave up and went to the den to console herself on the couch under the down throw. Life is tough for a Dachshund.

I did venture out at 8:00 to drive around the corner to my neighbor's to get 3 of my cranberry orange walnut breads from her freezer to bring into work tomorrow for Xmas gifts. It was treacherous walking as the sleet froze coating everything and now there is a layer of rain on top of it.

If you know anything about Dachshunds, you'd know how they HATE rain. I pushed Liesel out the door several times today and she stood there looking at me with that look that said, "Fat chance if you think I'm venturing out there to tinkle." I certainly did not want to go out and make her walk around so you can guess what I was doing later in the bathroom with paper towels and spray cleanser.

As I type, she's behind me on the couch rolled up in the down throw. I'm soon going to join her as I'm beat.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Trecherous Morning Commute

It started snowing during the night and about 4 inches of fluffy snow greeted me at 6:10 this morning. Just what I love, getting out of bed and immediately going out to shovel and clean off my car in my flannels.

I came in and hit the shower and got ready for work. Of course when I went out to leave, I had to clean the car off all over again as it was snowing to beat the band.

Liesel was quite surprised when I put her out. She did love running and jumping through the snow. All my dachshunds have loved the snow but hate the rain.

My commute to work is normally 25 minutes but today it took almost double that. Driving 20 - 25 mph and very cautiously is why. The roads were just horrible so I wonder where all the snowplows were hiding. I go back roads to work and no where near a highway so I'm fortunate. My boss had to go on the highway and it took her forever and there were accidents everywhere. I found that when I needed to stop, the car just would slide. When I needed to start up, the wheels would spin and several times I thought I was stuck. I was so happy to drive into the big parking lot at work and go into the building.

The snow stopped in the mid to late morning and then we had some rain so the roads were completely clean on the way home. We did get thunder and lightning and some rain. Weird.

I hope we don't have black ice tomorrow morning.

OK, here is one of my snowstorm pet peeves. I had a jerk in a big truck behind me following way too closely (considering the road conditions) for 1/3 of the commute this morning. So many people that drive big SUVs drive way too fast during storms (another pet peeve of mine).

The highlight of my day was stopping at my doctor's and getting my swine flu vaccination. I am so thrilled. Wish they'd had the vaccine several weeks ago as I don't have two weeks before my trip to Moscow but am happy that I have it. I don't think I've ever had a better shot as I never felt it and it was the quickest one I'd ever had. I have a needle phobia so coming from me, that's something.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Holiday Doings

Well, my weekend started off on Saturday with bringing Liesel (my dachshund) to pets' pictures with Santa. A local canine organization sponsored it and she (and I) had a good time. There were of course other dog owners there with their dogs so it was also a socialization time. She met (and sniffed) lots of other dogs and kissed a lot of dog owners. Since they all were dog people, they didn't mind her doggie kisses. They also had a raffle to raise money for their organization and some dog theme gifts for sale. I bought a lot of homemade dog biscuits for her to give her doggie friends. We also went to Petco which is always a big hit with her.

After some errands, I came home and made cream cheese spritz Xmas cookies. It's not Xmas without those spritz cookies as I make them every year. I've even sent them to Europe when my daughter was there for fall term in Spain. I have some packaged to bring to Moscow with me when I go for the holidays. I need to call the airlines to see if it's allowed to do that as I'd feel awful to have to throw my Tupperware container full of cookies in the airport trash. After my baking and 2 Advil for my sore feet, the dog and I hit the couch to watch "White Christmas". It's a holiday ritual for me to watch that movie as I love it.

Yesterday we had wet snow that froze on the ground and is still there and crunchy. There wasn't much - not even an inch - but enough to make it slippery. t's cold out so that's why it is still frozen.

Today I was home all day working in the house - bacon and pancakes for brunch, pork loin in the crock pot for supper, baked an egg custard, did lots of laundry (still hung out towels and sheets as it was sunny), wrapped Xmas and baby gifts, wrote some Xmas cards, went to the attic for a few decorations for the doors, gave the dog a bath, colored my hair as the gray was really showing, got cranberry breads from my neighbor's freezer to give as gifts tomorrow and now it's time to sit on the couch with my dog and give her lots of attention. She is at my side with her head resting on my leg. She loves being right next to me and is such a good buddy.

I'm meeting friends tomorrow after work for dinner. We are all former neighbors and meet monthly at Panera Bread but for the holidays go someplace fancier. The last few years, we've gone to a beautiful inne that is decorated very festively for the holidays. It's very quiet and we linger and talk. We exchange gifts and I usually give them an amaryllis each year as one of their gifts. I am also giving them a cranberry orange nut bread and a box of fancy holiday soaps. Last year I didn't give them amaryllis bulb kits and they missed it as they look forward to having one.

I had planned on packing for Moscow this weekend but decided to do it next weekend as I will need some of the clothes for work this week. Next weekend is it as I want it done ahead of time as it's a big job. There is lots of small "stuff". It's not just packing my clothes - that would be easy.

Hope you had a good weekend.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Lots of bread baking

Today was cranberry orange walnut bread day. I had a production line going. I ground all the cranberries and had 8 bowls of the ground fruit. Then I started mixing the rest of the ingredients and made one double batch at a time. I didn't have 16 loaf pans so baked the breads in 3 batches. Some of the batches were made into regular loaves and some were in the small tins. I cleaned up the bowls and food processor as I went along so I didn't have the mess at the end.

I don't have a freezer but my neighbor does and it wasn't full so I brought over 3 plastic grocery bags full of my breads to her house. Naturally I gave them one of the big breads. She called me later to say that they'd had some and enjoyed it.

I came home and boiled the 2 turkey legs and wings I'd brought home as leftovers, picked the meat off, cut up veggies and made a big pot of soup. You know what I'll be eating for supper this week.

I'd washed and hung out my sheets so I made up my bed as having to do it at 11:00 wouldn't be fun.

Before I stretched out on the couch, I took two Advil as my feet were tired and aching from standing all day in the kitchen. The dog and I are vegging out under the down throw watching a Xmas movie on TV.

A lot of work today but it's nice to know that all that baking is done for gifts and my winter enjoyment.

Unfortunately it's back to work in the AM and the end to the nice, long, holiday weekend.

Friday, November 27, 2009

My Holiday Weekend

Yesterday was a wonderful holiday spent with two different sets of friends. I started the day watching the Macy's parade and cooking several sides to bring to friends' to add to the holiday meal. I went to my friends at 1:00 and we enjoyed appetizers before a fancy Thanksgiving dinner. Everything was so delicious but the best part of the day was spending time with my friends and their adult daughters.

I also had been invited to another friend's for dinner around 5:30. So when my friends' daughters left to go back to Maine, I drove around the corner to Thanksgiving Part II. They were just about to sit down to the holiday meal but I was stuffed so I joined them at the table and just had a glass of sparking cider. Another fun holiday celebration with friends. Their children are 9, 4 and 22 months (twin girls) so it was fun to be around the kids. I left there with leftovers so am all set for dinners this weekend. Love those leftovers.

I set my alarm for 6:00 so I could wait for the doors to open at the hardware store in town. You probably are wondering what was so exciting that I left my warm fleece sheets to go out in the rain so early on a day off. Well, it was a 12 gal. shop wet/dry vacuum for $29. Exciting, huh?

Then I went to Staples to see if they had a wireless mouse on their blockbuster sale. They did and I bought one. I figured I was on a Black Friday roll so I then went to Kohl's and scored some more super deals. I was home before 10:00 and had also made a quick stop at the grocery store. Not bad I thought.

I spent the day wrapping Christmas gifts and am done with it but for the amaryllis bulbs. Since the boxes have a hole for air, I think they probably shouldn't be wrapped until right before I give them. It's good to have it done and one step closer to being ready for Christmas.

I watched a movie on the kitchen TV and a DVD. I had found a collection of westerns from the 1950's at Walmart this fall but hadn't watched any yet. This afternoon I watched all the Annie Oakley ones and was brought back to the days of my childhood when I just loved watching that show, along with Fury, Sky King, Roy Rogers, Hop Along Cassidy, etc.

The dog had a new toy so she was zoned out with that. Right now she's asleep by my left side and happy to be next to me. I covered her with the down throw and she's so content.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Long Weekend Ahead

Oh, how I've been looking forward to the long holiday weekend. Starts off with a veg night tonight with the dog. She is pooped from her day today at doggie daycare and is curled up (and asleep) under the down throw on the couch behind me. I am feeling so good knowing that I won't hear my alarm click at 6:00 AM tomorrow. The dog and I can sleep in. Then I can have a nice breakfast and cook several sides to bring to my friends' for the Thanksgiving meal. This will be done while watching the Macy's Thanksgiving parade.

I'm be able to sleep in each day, go at my own pace and also get a lot done. I plan to pack my suitcases for my upcoming trip to Moscow and have everything by them except for my clothes. I don't plan to bring a lot of clothes as my daughter washes daily and it'll save room in the suitcases.

Each holiday season, I do baking for Christmas gifts and this weekend will start that with having a cranberry orange walnut bread production line. It's a messy job so it'll be good to have it all done at once. I make some in the regular size pans and some in the tiny ones. I like to wrap them in aluminum foil with elegant metallic ribbons. I'm hoping to also bake green cream cheese spritz cookies that I shape into a circle and put two red cinnamon candies on them so they look like mini wreaths. It's not Christmas for my daughter without them as she had them each year. In fact, the year that she spent Christmas in Europe after being in Spain fall term in college, I baked a batch the beginning of October to mail with her Christmas gifts in mid October to Spain so she's have her green cookies. Last night I bought the red hot cinnamon candies and green sugar to pack in my suitcase along with my spritz maker so I can make them with my granddaughters in Moscow and start the tradition for them.

While watching all the Christmas movies on the Hallmark channel, I'll also be doing some gift wrapping.

I'm looking forward to spending the holiday tomorrow with one family of friends for dinner in the afternoon and then going around the corner to spend the evening with another family of friends for dessert. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.

I will have to probably hit a store or two but want to avoid it on Black Friday. Can't believe people actually will be up and in line at Walmart for their 4:00 AM opening. Not me. The dog and I will be fast asleep in my bed between the fleece sheets.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Big day for Liesel

It was another gorgeous fall day here in CT with sunny skies and unusually warm temperatures. I wanted to take Liesel for a walk along the river so we both could enjoy the the beautiful day and get some exercise.

We started out with a stop at Petco and I bought a rotating electric nail file that I'll try out on her this week. Sure hope she sits still so I can do her nails.

From there we stopped in at the antique/used furniture shop so I could show the owners my cute Liesel. They have their dog there all the time so they are dog lovers.

We stopped at a couple of other shops by where I parked near the river and I carried her as they were an upscale baby/toddler shop and a gift shop. The gift shop has lots of holiday decorating items and is always so beautiful. I was surprised to see a display of Russian Christmas ornaments and matryoshka dolls. Boy, the prices were a lot more than at the big Russian shop on the Arabat and definitely more than at the Izmailovo Market (can't wait to go there in a month).

In the same section of town is a nursery/gift shop and we walked around outside admiring the fall and Christmas arrangements made with live greens and decorations. I could never afford to actually buy one of the arrangements as they are quite pricey but it's fun to look and get ideas. They have some of their Christmas trees out and they are all perfect. There is nothing like a real tree for beauty and aroma.

We had a nice walk along the river and met lots of friendly people and dogs. Liesel loves going for walks there and being outside. She also is a very social dog and so friendly to everyone we encounter.

I'm sitting on the edge of the couch with the laptop on the coffee table and guess who is curled up behind me under the down throw? She is exhausted from her walk and exciting afternoon.

A nice afternoon.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

It's a .....

Imagine my surprise last night when I turned around in the customer service line at the department store and looked into the carriage. I thought it was a "different" looking baby carriage and wondered why it was enclosed with zippered netting. Well, it's because there was a calico cat inside instead of a baby.

Now I love my dog dearly but would I buy a special pet carriage so that I could wheel her when I go shopping? NO!!!!! If I did that, I know my family would think I'd gone off the deep end but they don't have to worry. When I leave home, Liesel is securely in her dog crate in my kitchen.

At first I thought these parents were kind of "old" to have an infant but figured it was a late marriage, etc. Was I ever shocked to see the cat curled up on a fluffy blanket. Now I think that is weird. What do you think?

While standing there, a store employee told the couple that they could not have a cat inside the store. The woman that owned the cat remarked that Nordstrom's doesn't mind their bringing the cat in her carriage inside.

Guess the saying, "It takes all kinds" is very true.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Christmas Shopping

Those of you that know me well know that I Christmas shop year 'round. Whenever I see something that I know is perfect for someone, I buy it and tuck it away. Even better if I find things on sale. I call this my "store". It comes in handy when I need a gift during the year as I have my stash.

I'm way ahead of the game for this holiday season but for finishing up stocking stuffers and one or two gifts. I hope to do all my gift wrapping over the Thanksgiving holiday. All the gifts that I'm bringing over with me to Moscow of course can't be gift wrapped. They all will be tucked away in my suitcases.

I'll also be bringing presents for Valentine's Day and Easter with me.

I do a lot of baking for Christmas gifts so that will start over Thanksgiving weekend too - spritz cookies and cranberry orange walnut breads.

Sleeping in and Soup Sunday

It was dreary and wet this morning so it was good to sleep in. Liesel has calmed down some and come to the realization that it's better to sleep in the big, comfy bed than in her dog crate. The nights that I take her up with me, she no longer is all over me at dawn to get up and has gotten into the Sunday morning routine of sleeping in and letting me read in bed. I never thought I'd see the day that she'd do this but am glad that it's here.

Yesterday was a yucky, rainy day here in CT and I thought it would be good to make soup this weekend. I wanted to take advantage of the meat and veggies that were on sale at the grocery store, have soup for dinners this week and have a big pot to send to my girlfriend's. My girlfriend had surgery this week so I wanted to send enough soup home with her husband for a couple of meals for them.

When I called her to see how she was doing and to ask if her husband could stop by with containers for the soup, she told me that she was sending me some squash and apple soup as one of her friends had sent over a big container of it. I'll look forward to bringing that to work with a sandwich for lunch. She also sent a container of applesauce from her freezer. Here I thought I was sending homemade soup for them and I received some homemade goodies in return.

I love all kinds of homemade soups in the fall and winter.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Cleaning for a facial?

You're probably wondering what cleaning has to do with getting a facial. Enter my girlfriend who is a new Mary Kay consultant and she asked if she could practice her presentation and the facial. Of course I told her yes.

What does this have to do with cleaning. Well, it's just Liesel the dog and moi. She's not exactly fussy about the house and cleaning. You know how some women clean for the cleaning lady? I'm cleaning for the Mary Kay lady.

Since Oct. is outside work month with cleaning out all the flower pots, cutting back perennial gardens, etc., the inside gets very neglected. The dust bunnies multiply and paper collects on the kitchen counters. I did a surface cleaning yesterday and finished up tonight with cleaning the first floor bathroom. I never got to the dusting but it'll have to do. I used to be a cleaning fanatic but boy have I changed in the last 5 or so years. I came to the realization that I can't work and do everything inside and out by myself and keep the always ready for company house. Until a year and a half ago, I worked two jobs and had little spare time. As I've gotten older, I also don't have the energy I used to have. It's a good thing I mellowed as the old me would have driven the new me nuts.

We're meeting first at Panera Bread for dinner and then will go to my house. We used to work together but she was laid off last November. I'm looking forward to getting together.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Little House on the Prairie

I don't think one is ever too old to enjoy Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House on the Prairie" nor tire of the stories.

The Hallmark channel is showing a series of Little House movies tonight for 6 hours. They are not the TV series with Melissa Gilbert but newly produced ones from 2005.

I don't remember the stories from my childhood but they were a big part of my daughter's childhood - the books and the TV show. One Christmas her Aunt Connie in Oregon made her a black calico with pink rosebud print dress that she thought was like what Mary and Laura wore. Since it had a large yoke top and was floor length, it fit her for about 3 years. By time she outgrew it, the dress was definitely not floor length.

The love for the Little House stories continues as my granddaughters now are enjoying the TV shows on DVD. I think my daughther's childhood books have been brought back to Moscow for Katya to read.

Today was gorgeous with lots of sun and temps in the 50's and a perfect CT fall day. Tomorrow is suppose to be in the low 60's. We don't know if we'll have many more weekends like this so I worked hard outside today to get ready for winter. I pruned shrubs, finished cutting back my perennial gardens and hauled the dried plants to the woods. After I came inside and showered, it was time to cook dinner. While it was cooking, I made an egg custard that's now baking. Took two Advil as my body is really stiff from the yardwork. The dog and I are on the couch watching the Little House movies. After a productive day, it's a good way to spend a Saturday evening with my dachshund curled up at my side enjoying a good movie.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

My Day

This morning I left early to get a jump on the pile on my desk at work. After a half mile from my house, I heard something and pulled over. Flat tire. Last night I remember running over a rock that was in the middle of the road but nothing happened. I was close to home and the car drove fine. I drove a short distance this morning to park in the driveway of someone that I know. Called AAA and waited and waited and waited. After 45 minutes, I called and was told he'd be there in 15 minutes. Waited some more and called again. He finally arrived and it was over an hour. I found out that he was the only person covering our area. I was livid. What are they going to do once winter and the frigid weather, ice and snow are here? Because of my wait, they did not count this call on my AAA account. I went to the Honda dealer, bought a new tire and off I went to work. Instead of being early, I was 3 hours late. So, tomorrow I will be going in very early and doing some of my catch up.

My day ended better with a holiday demo at a local upscale nursery/gift center. The theme was mantle and Christmas trees. Everything they did was gorgeous and out of Country Living or Victoria magazines. They kept saying how nice certain things would look on your kitchen island. OK, not everyone lives in a McMansion with a huge kitchen with an island. What about those of us that live in a Cape? I came home and looked at my house with the kitchen floor that the puppy chewed two circular holes in the top layer of the old flooring and the one kitchen cabinet that she chewed. My kitchen is the original from the 1950's but it's home and I do love my dog.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Where have the years gone?

It seems like it was just a year or so ago that one of my duties as mom was to be very involved in the college search. I started searching through Baron's with my mentor Jill. She was a wealth of knowledge as she had two in top colleges and her third deep in the college search as she was a year older than my daughter. Jill and I would sit out on the porch with our Baron's on those hot summer days at the CT shore. She passed along very wise advice.

The summer before her junior year, my daughter and I visited a couple of colleges. Thus began the touring process. We hit all the surrounding states and went as far south as Washington, west as Pennsylvania and north as VT, NH and Western NY. This touring of college campuses ended in October of her senior year.

The early decision applications were mailed by the end of November and it was over. Now the waiting began until the acceptances came by mail.

Why am I writing this? Well, it is the same season and instead of being the wide eyed high school student, my daughter is leading a small group of high school students from her school in Moscow to Edinburgh, Scotland, this week. It seems like such a short time ago that we walked the same path.

My older granddaughter just turned 9 and before we know it, my daughter will be doing the same thing with her daughter. I hope she has as much fun as I did. Those college visiting trips were great mother/daughter bonding times before she left home a short time later to live at college, study in Italy, travel through Europe and Moscow and also work in Spain and Moscow.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Yarn, Yarn and More Yarn

I met up with my girlfriend and her sister this morning and off we went to Hartford to the Stitches East convention at the Convention Center. It was the first time I'd been to one and it was all that Diane promised. Aisles and aisles of yarn - all varieties, weights, colors and blends. If we'd seriously looked at all the vendors, it would have taken several days.

I felt like a kid in a candy shop as it was overwhelming.

After quite a few cell phone calls to Tami in Moscow, I bought a beautiful white mohair with a sparkly silver thread, a variegated plum with other Monet water colors and sparkly silver and gold threads and the pattern to knit them up into two pretty shawl/shrugs. I also bought a teal, plum, black mohair and teal wool with a pattern for a felted hat for her and more mohair for a matching scarf. For myself, I bought a bright variegated bright green, purple, blue and hot pink sock yarn to knit myself a very costly pair of socks - my first pair. I bought several other patterns. I did restrain myself from buying more today. Tami will knit the hat, scarf and one shawl/shrug for herself. I'm dying to see the yarn knit up so I'll do the variegated plum one for her this fall.

Tami would have gone wild there with all the beautiful yarns as she loves to knit too.

We ended our day by sitting at little tables knitting squares that will later be sewn together for blankets. It is part of a nationwide organization that donates blankets to those in need. I think it was called Warm America.

Really fun day. Now I am going to relax with the dog on the couch, movies on the Hallmark channel and work on sewing the hand knit bunnies I'm making for Rachael's Etsy Store (Simple Wishes).

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Another Step Closer to Moscow

Tonight I gave a final glance through the Lands End catalogs and made my selections. I've been on a search for winter snow boots as my high ones finally gave out last year. I noticed that the classic Lands End ones for kids went up to size 7 so I asked if that was the same as a ladies 7. The customer service rep told me that a youth 7 is a ladies 5 so I added a pair to my list.

I placed my order and hope everything fits or I'll be going to Sears with returns.

I'd been looking for snow boots all month in the local stores and had not found what I wanted so I was happy to let Lands End end my search.

I have all the stuff out to box to send to my SIL in CO so he can bring it back in their checked luggage/boxes. He and the girls will be visiting his parents over Halloween for their fall week off from school.

I need to book my transportation to JFK to make sure that I have a seat.

Next is filling out my visa application and sending it off to the agency to present to the Russian Embassy for approval to visit Russia.

Can you tell that I'm anxious to board the flight for Moscow?

Monday, October 19, 2009

My Life Must Be Dull

if going to a discount grocery store thrills me!

Tonight I went to a discount grocery store for the first time as my neighbor went yesterday and emailed me that I HAD to go! So off I went to stock up on bargains.

Snagging a pound of brand name bacon for $1.74/lb. was the highlight of my day. Add to that $1 for a pound of Cabot butter and T-bone steak at $3.94/lb. I can't remember when I last bought a T-bone steak as they are big and pricey but tonight I threw caution to the wind and bought the two pack. My cart and the tray underneath were loaded with bargains. I bought just about all of the week's super saving specials and had umpteen million bags for the grand total of $156.56 and saved $57. In that were a family pack of chicken breasts, a family 8 pound pack of hamburg, 16 pork loin chops, 4 pounds of bacon and the steaks. Did I do well or not?

The savings had me hypnotized as I bought 2 gallons of milk which were around $1.75 a gallon. What am I going to do with all that milk as I hate to drink milk? Guess I'll be using lots of the 3 dozen of eggs (also at a ridiculously low price) to make quiches with the fresh asperagus and Cabot Monterey Jack cheese (both also on special savings). I do have a slight problem though - a full freezor. Maybe my neighbor that turned me on to the store will have some room in her freezor in her cellar.

I also have a 10 pound bag of potatoes. Any suggestions?

Later I did get all the meat individually wrapped and in freezor bags safely stored in the freezor. Now it means that I'm going to have to do some serious cooking.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

It's White in CT...

and Halloween is over two weeks away. This is crazy. The leaves are just falling and most are still on the trees and not all have even turned yet. Mother Nature is messed up.

We were suppose to have rain today but in parts of CT, it turned to the white stuff. On my way home, I drove from rain to wet, sloppy flakes. There is a coating on the trees and roofs but the roads are just wet.

The deck has about a half inch of snow so when Liesel went out on it, there were little footprints everywhere. She was some surprised when she went out in the yard when I put her out after work. Dachshunds love snow (I've found) but hate rain. All of my doxies have loved to jump through the snow - even when it's fairly deep. A few raindrops and they don't want to budge off the front steps. Wimps!

She was very happy to come inside though and curl up on the couch.

It's suppose to be even colder tomorrow and wet. Weird for mid October.

I'll take this over the heat and humidity of summer any day!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

It's CT And Not The Woods of Maine

With all the wildlife around here in the burbs, one would think it was northern New England. It's not unusual to have a bear walking into your back yard, bending down your plant shepherd's hook to empty out the birdseed in the hanging feeder or going through outside trash cans.

I've only seen a bear once in my backyard but my neighbors see them on a fairly regular basis spring through fall. They live on the outside of the circle so back up to miles of woods.

I know that brown bears are suppose to just eat berries, seeds, nuts, etc. but I still don't want to ever put that to a test. There are many times during the nice weather that I've wanted to go for a walk around the circle with the dog in the later evening but I've been afraid of meeting up with a big 4 legged hairy creature.

Last night my neighbor emailed me pictures of a baby possum that was on top of their bushel of apples out on their patio area. There are also coyotes in the area and I saw one cross the road one morning on my way to work last week. This was about 10 minutes from my house.

This is why I never let my 15 pound dachshund out on her line unless I am either out with her or on the front steps watching her.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Getting Ready for Winter - Part I

Part of my fall ritual is to empty the NUMEROUS pots of annuals from my deck, front steps, walk, front and back yards. It is a big job with numerous trips with the wheel barrel to the woods where I dump the dirt and flowers. They are still in bloom so I hated dumping them but I don't want to wait until after the first frost as then it is cold out.

After all the pots have been emptied, the next step is backbreaking and wet. I hose and scrub them so in May they are clean and ready to be filled for the season. I really do clean them well. They are on my deck, front steps and upside down on some small scrubs drying off. Tomorrow after work, I'll collect them, stack them and put them in large garbage bags to go down to the cellar.

If next Sunday is nice, I'll take my screens down, scrub them on a tarp on the front lawn and store them in the cellar for the winter. I kept a large box from one of my new windows and store the clean screens in there. Another very wet and backbreaking job.

Wonder what I'll do when I'm too old to do this each fall?

While I was doing all the work, Liesel was out on the deck supervising.

From one of my earlier posts, you all know how I love to hang out my laundry so today the line was full to take advantage of the sunny day.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Pressure Is On

Liesel and I have two more weeks of dog obedience class. Tonight our instructor/trainer told us that for our last class, she wants each of us to teach our dogs a trick and to have the dog perform it during that class. Immediately I went into a panic as Liesel won't even do sit/stay for more than a few seconds.

Since she is a very verbal dog, the instructor/trainer said that I could teach her to speak. Oh my, I have my work cut out for me.

She is very much a German dog as she is smart but VERY strong willed. That seems to be a trait that we all have in my family - humans included.

I need to be better about training so we don't look like fools in two weeks.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Observations at the Laundromat

Since we had a rainy weekend here in CT, I couldn't hang out laundry and there was just too much wash to do today for my slow dryer so off I went to the laundromat in town. As much as I hate going there, it is good to get it all done at once in an hour.

I did wash one load at home so threw that in the dryer as soon as I got there before loading two large washers with laundry.

I brought a soda and my book so the time went by quickly and I enjoyed reading.

There were a couple of people that were there during that time. One woman came in with a blanket and comforter. I cringed when she was dragging it across the grungy carpet. A mom came in with her four kids and a few toys. All four kids were on the floor playing. I cringed again. I don't even put my laundry baskets on the floor.

Loaded up the car with all the folded laundry in a big basket and all the clothes on hangers. Came home and put everything away and made up my bed. I love getting into bed on Sunday nights to clean sheets. Maybe when I am retired, I'll wash my sheets daily so I can have the luxury of clean sheets each night.

Shopping for the Kids

That's one of my favorite things to do.

Yesterday I was in Gymboree as I have missed going in there. I hadn't been in since Tami and girls were here this summer. I saw an adorable "cat" gown on sale in the Halloween area of the store. The gown has a small leopard print top with black fur around the neckline and cuffs and a black netting type fabric puffy skirt. They only had 3 and one was Katya's size. When I spoke with Tami this morning, I started telling her about it and she asked me if it was the cat gown. She tried to buy it online at Gymboree and it was sold out in Katya's size. It is what Katya wanted to go trick or treating at her grandparents' in CO later this month. When Katya got on the phone, she was so excited about having the cat gown. Today I went back and bought the matching headbands (with cat ears) and leopard print tights. Was I every lucky that they had her size. Guess I know what my granddaughter likes. In the checkout line, a lady gave me her 20% total sales coupon. My lucky day.

The girls and my SIL will be flying to CO to visit his parents for the week of school vacation. They'll be there for Halloween so both girls will actually get to go trick or treating in the US. They haven't been able to do that since Katya was 3 and Natalia was 10 months old so this is a big holiday for them. I'm glad that Grandpa and Grandma Bravo will be able to share their fun and excitement.

While out this weekend, I hit sales at a local toy store and Justice so shopped for both girls. More for me to bring over to Moscow in December. I love shopping for the girls but it's not as easy as when they were little as they are very opinionated in what they do and don't like.

The last few weeks I've just lucked out shopping and have gotten quite a few Christmas presents. I am all done for the Muscovites but for some stocking stuffers. I'm done with all my other friends' gifts as I bought a lot last winter and whenever I'd see the perfect gift. I've made a few gifts too. It's a good feeling to be where I am.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Lazy September Weekend in CT

We are having perfect September weather and it's my favorite time of year with bright sunny days, dry air and cold nights. I love being outside on the weekends and soaking it all in.

Yesterday Liesel and I went to an open house at her doggie daycare. We hung around outside with some of the people and she was a canine greeter. She loves people and being made a lot over.

Today we had several hours out on the deck.

That's my weekend. Nothing earth shattering but relaxing. Liesel is so relaxed that she's sound asleep under the down throw on the den couch.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Girls' Night Out

One of my close friends and I met after work tonight at the nail salon for manicures. I hadn't been for one since the same friend and I went on May 5th. It was the night before I flew to Moscow and also the night before my birthday. She treated me to a manicure and dinner for a birthday send off. What a special birthday gift.

We were talking last week about our nails and I was saying that I badly needed a manicure. We made plans to meet tonight and then go for dinner. It was such fun that we're making it a monthly treat.

What could be better to top off the first day back to work than spending the evening with a good friend, having a manicure and dinner that someone else is cooking, serving and cleaning up?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Handknit Bunnies

I have been knitting bunnies for Rachael ( to sell in her Etsy shop (Simple Wishes). Rachael set up the Etsy shop two falls ago to raise money for the orphanage in Russia where her daughter lived until age 7 when she became part of Rachael's family.

Last year I knit a sweater, skirt, hat set to fit an American Girl doll for her shop and made paper explosion boxes. The boxes never made it to the shop as Rachael bought all of them.

This year's project is 6" bunnies. I've been knitting them in pink, raspberry and light blue. I'm almost done with the knitting (a few more to do) and then will sew them all together and stuff them.

Watch for them in Simple Wishes and BUY!

Rachael and her sisters (and mom) are super crafty so I'm sure they'll have fantastic handmade items for sale.

All the money goes to the orphanage so it's a wonderful cause. Spread the word to all your friends.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Grandma Streusel on a Mission

When Annie clued me in yesterday about the American Girl historic doll activity books being given away as the McDonald's Happy Meal freebie, I went to the McD's in town and inquired about just buying the books as I didn't need 8 Happy Meals. They only had 3 of the 8 so I bought them.

Today I went in the opposite direction to another McDonald's to buy the other 5. They only had 3 and told me the promo ends on the 10th. Being a good grandmother and an American Girl lover, I drove 10 minutes to another town to check out their McDonald's. They only had 1 of the 2 I needed so I asked if they would get more before the 10th.

A manager came over (with a Russian - or Polish) accent and asked if she could help. She asked which character I needed and said she'd go in the back to check. She came back with Molly so I now have a complete set to bring to Moscow at Christmas.

I was Grandma Streusel on a mission. Mission Accomplished.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Vegging Out

Today was another perfect weather day here in CT with blue skies, sun, dry air and temps in the high 70's. Couldn't be better (IMO).

Since today was the first day since I was home sick around July 4th that I could enjoy reading on my deck, I did just that all afternoon. Of course I have tons of projects in my yard and inside the house that need doing but as Scarlet O'Hara said, "I'll think about that tomorrow."

I went outside with a stack of magazines, my portable phone and dog. She wasn't out there long before she wanted to be picked up so she spent most of the afternoon on my lap while I read.

I have to savor afternoons like this for when it's 11:00 PM, 5 degrees above 0 and I'm out in a blizzard shoveling snow off the steps, walk and path from the front door for the dog to use when she has to go out for her 2 minute stint.

My plans for tomorrow afternoon...a repeat of today.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

My First Day of School

Dog Training School that is. Yes, I am enrolled at the doggie daycare's new training class for adult dogs. Tonight was the first night and dogs were not to come to the first class. It was owner orientation night.

We went around the semicircle telling the group which breed of dog we had, it's age and what we wanted to accomplish. When it was my turn, I immediately piped up that the doggie daycare owners told me that Liesel and I had to enroll. I also shared that my dog has so many behavior issues that they are too numerous to list. Her pluses are that she is so loving, social with all dogs and humans and the owners and trainers tell me that she is smart. Now half of my ancestors are German and Dutch so I am well aware of the strong (and stubborn) trait that is common to the nationality. Well, dachshunds follow suit along those lines. At least Liesel is not an alpha dog as my Streusel was.

I have great hopes for her. I came home with my clicker and we practiced sitting which I'd taught her earlier this summer. Tonight I did the click as soon as she sat and before she got her treat. Tomorrow night the homework sessions start. I want her to excel next Tuesday night at the Name Game and looking at me. I don't want to be the only owner whose dog isn't paying attention. I want Liesel to do well, gain confidence and progress with her training. Maybe one day we'll even get to the stage where she won't pee on the bathroom floor all the time. Do you think we'll ever get to the point where she'll ring a poochie bell when she wants to go outside? I can dream, can't I?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Daycare Mom

Since I didn't need daycare for my daughter when she was younger, I never expected to be needing it at this grandmother stage of my life. Yes, Liesel my dachshund goes to doggie daycare one day a week.

One day a week is small dog day at doggie daycare so those mornings are hectic to get us both out the door. At least I don't have to pack her a lunch box. She is such a good girl and curls up on the Disney princess sleeping bag folded on the passenger seat floor right as the car backs out the driveway. Once I pull into the doggie daycare, she is ready to get OUT and get inside to meet her friends. She's one of the first dogs there so she has the doggie daycare "teacher" mostly to herself. She never looks back as she goes through the doors to the doggie play area.

When I pick her up after work, she is so excited to see me. After greeting me, she goes right for the door to go home.

After her supper, she is on all 4 for about an hour. Then she wants to curl up on her pad in her crate or on the pillow on the couch. If I'm in the den on the computer, she wants to always be in the same room with me so she'll follow me into here.

The strenuous play exercise is so good for her both physically and mentally. Sure wish I could send her there several days a week as she just loves it (and I love how it tires her out).

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Grandma is with "it"

I know they have been popular for several years and EVERYONE has them. My daughter and granddaughters have had them for years and love them. I've tried them on several times and didn't think they were comfortable.

Yesterday I was at a local discount store that buys overstocks, etc. They had the real ones for only $10. I tried them on again and they actually were comfortable. Unfortunately there weren't many choices for color so I have Robin's egg blue ones that have white swirls throughout.

By now have you figured out that I am now a Crocs wearer?

I came home, cut off the tags and wore them in the house all evening. I wanted to make sure that I really found them comfortable before I wore them outside. I wore them all day and really do like them.

Before I left the store, I also bought a lime green pair of the knock-offs that they sell as I figured they'd be good for gardening shoes.

So if you see a 60ish grandma sporting blue with white swirl Crocs, please say hi.

Monday, August 17, 2009

My Dark Secret

Last week I did a posting about the picture on my blogging header taken at American Girl Place in New York City and mentioned how I love going there and American Girl.

My girlfriend and I were chatting on my drive into work this morning and yes, I was hands free on my cell. She told me that she and her husband were taking their 9 year old granddaughter to NYC one day this week. One of the things they will do is make a brief visit to American Girl Place. I am so jealous as I LOVE going there.

As a child, I had my fair share of dolls and liked playing with them. I always wanted a Ginny doll but never got one. Could that be why I turned out the way I am? I got my Barbie doll in Sept. (5th grade) on a day trip to NYC. My mom and I drove my grandparents and aunt to the docks for their ocean trip to Europe. My grandparents were going back to visit their homeland and my aunt was along for the trip. My grandparents came over to the US from what became East Germany and Holland when they were in their twenties and just married. After we saw them off, my mom and I went to Macy's and I got my doll. I'll never forget it but don't remember all the playing that I did with her. What I do remember is all the playing that I did when I was younger with my baby dolls and my walking doll. There was no such thing as anything like an American Girl doll. Even if there had been, my practical parents never would have spent that kind of money.

Fast forward to the next generation. I never knew anything about American Girl when my daughter was growing up. My ex and I were also very practical parents so we never would have spent that kind of money either. She had her share of dolls and Barbies and liked playing with them.

Fast forward to the two granddaughters. Now, they are another story and gone are the practical values my ex and I had as they are our granddaughters. We've bought each girl several dolls and accessories. If I could afford it, I would have bought more of the American Girl booty that they have.

I've read the Molly books and listened to most of the other series from books on tape and seen all the movies. The first ones that were only on TV have been taped and I've even watched them several times on my own. Yes, I admit to it. My daughter actually planned their arrival in CT last summer so they'd all be here so we could go to see the Kit Kittridge movie on opening day.

For Christmas 2007, I made each granddaughter period Colonial Williamsburg gowns to match their dolls they got that Christmas. Check my daughter's blog header and you'll see them wearing the Williamsburg gowns but in Moscow. When we went to American Girl place, we brought the gowns and they changed as soon as we got there and they wore them while we shopped and had lunch in the cafe. Of course their new Felicity and Elizabeth dolls went along. I still need to find the right washable fabric to make them the red and green long capes.

When we go to American Girl Place, we're there for the long haul which means looking over and over at all the displays, deciding what to buy, having lunch in the cafe, the girls' pictures taken in the photo shop and just having a wonderful time. When they had the live show, we went to that.

I think the thing that we all love about the American Girl historic dolls is how they totally wrap the girls into the American history. The girls roll play and really get into character. One weekend they were Addie escaping from slavery to freedom in the North. Another weekend my daughter got supplies and they made a teepee in their living room. They wore their Indian squaw outfits, slept in their teepee along with their Kaya doll and were Nez Perce American Indians. With the girls' living in Moscow, it is important that they learn about their own American history as they don't have it in school. From the dolls, they have developed an interest in books about famous Americans in history. I remember as a little girl loving to read autobiographies about famous people. The books had light blue covers I remember.

I DREAD the day that the girls outgrow it all. Fortunately Katya (turning 9 in 2 weeks) is really into it so hopefully we have quite a few more years left. The way things go with the girls, once Katya outgrows something, Natalia follows. I hated to see Angellina Ballerina and Madeline left behind. I'm still holding on to my Angellina and Madeline videos just in case... My girlfriend Diane loves American Girl and bought herself the Molly doll and is slowly buying the Molly clothes and accessories. I bet Diane would go with me to American Girl Place in NYC once my granddaughters no longer want to go! I'll keep that thought in mind........

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Escaping the Heat

Because it is mid August, I was very optomistic that we would have summer come and go without the dog days of summer. Wrong! Today in the shade, it was 90 here at my house in the burbs of Connecticut.

Many people go to the beach, the mall or the movies to escape the heat. What did I do? Read, clean and hang out many loads of laundry. As soon as the clothes were dry and taken in, I had more wet ones ready to go out. I have no idea how many trips I made from the second floor down to the cellar. Free exercise.

I sorted stuff that didn't go to Moscow, purged some stuff, cleaned a few rooms, opened my suitcase in my daughter's room and started packing for my trip to Moscow in December. I came up with a bright idea to have one of the large suitcases and my carry on open in her room so when I buy something or UPS drops off what my daughter has bought online, it'll go in the suitcase. This will alleviate the stress of packing as everything will be where it should go. All I'll have to do is take it all out and cleverly pack it like a jigsaw puzzle (over the long Thanksgiving weekend).

I was outside in short bursts of time hanging and getting in laundry and watering my potted plants so they could survive. I wanted to water my perennial beds but couldn't stand the heat or the invasion of mosquitoes. Where did all the mosquitoes come from? They were out for blood.

I actually cooked tonight and made up a casserole - browned hamburger and a Bermuda onion, tossed in cooked fresh summer squash, cut up olives, sour cream and cream of mushroom soup. Topped it with shredded cheddar cheese. It was really good but I'm going to make some spaghetti or rice tomorrow and have it as a topping as it was a little too wet. For those of you that are vegetarians, subsitute ground veggie meat.

The pup got her run around the block with the little neighborhood boy that I've hired to run her. I waited to call him until the sun was not as strong so they went at 7:00. It did the trick as she is content to curl up on the couch while I'm in the den on the computer or on the pillow in her crate in the kitchen. She now has a bed pillow in her crate and loves it. I bought new pillows for my daughter's bed so Liesel gets the hand-me-downs.

Looking forward to starting my new book later tonight - The Diplomat's Wife. I just finished The Kommandant's Wife and loved it. The Diplomat's Wife follows the story. Tamara read them this summer and left them for me.

Hope it's not as hot where you are.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

American Girl Place

For those of you that have a daughter, granddaughter or niece with an American Girl doll, you recognize where my header picture was taken. Each January when Tamara and the girls are visiting from Moscow, we make our pilgrimage to American Girl Place in NYC. I think Mom and Grandma Streusel (named for my last dachshund) love it as much as the girls do.

The last two years we've driven right into Manhattan and parked at a garage that is about a block from the store. It's costly but so is the train so it really is a better deal. The plus side is that the girls can fall asleep on the way home and be comfy.

This past Christmas Santa brought Natalia the doll of the year and Katya the doll of the year from the previous year. *Yes, that Santa can perform miracles. They also got the matching outfits for themselves. Here we are all posing inside the Cafe at lunch.

I am upset that this first week in January we won't be making our trek to AGP as they won't be here in the US and I will have just flown home from spending the Christmas holiday with all of them in Moscow. Maybe we will get to squeeze in a day in NYC next summer so we get our American Girl Place "fix".

More than once, I've asked my daughter what will we do when the girls outgrown American Girl.

*We never know who is reading this post.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Line Drying

I grew up in a house without a dryer. My mother hung out our clothes year 'round. Fortunately there were only 3 of us in the family so that meant less laundry. In the summer, they flapped in the sun and breeze. In the winter, they froze on the line and we had the frozen things in our laundry room and sometimes draped over a drying rack in the kitchen. We had a wood stove in our large kitchen and my parents kept it well fed so the room was usually around 75 so they dried quickly (stiff as a board).

I just love clothes dried on the line - crisp sheets and stiff towels. I hate towels dried in the dryer as they are limp and not as absorbant (IMO). I lived summers at the CT shore and nothing beat the sight of beach towels and bathing suits hung out on the line to dry after a fun day on the beach.

I hang out sheets, towels, jeans and stuff that doesn't need to go in the dryer on my clothesline as soon as the weather warms up and do so into November. I don't like taking in frozen clothes so I'm not a dieheart like my mother was. As I said, I love the smell and feel of line dried things. Another bonus is that I save electricity. I also can do a load at 11:00 PM, hang it out and go to bed. The next day after work, I just bring it in. If I had to rely on the dryer, I wouldn't be able to wash that late at night and go to bed. There are a few negatives though. You can't hang wash out when it's rainging, might rain or is overcast and muggy. Sometimes a bird goes on a item so it has to be rewashed. Every now and then I have to flick a bug off an item before bringing it inside. I look on these inconveniences as Mother Nature.

Now if I had the thingamagig, I could have taken a picture of clothes on the line and put it here. Use your imagination. My backyard has a big perennial garden so picture the clothesline and the multi-colored perennial bed.

Now I'm off to take jerseys out of the dryer as they don't do well drying on the line.

Dog Tired

Liesel has Wednesdays marked in her blackberry as doggie daycare as she's quite the social pup. We have a great local doggie daycare/grooming salon/dog training facility. I know one of the owners from scrapbooking so that's how Liesel started going there this summer. Liesel also was a houseguest of my scrapping friend when I went to Moscow in May and when I first came down with the shingles this June. I'm digressing.

I drop Liesel off on my way to work and she is EAGER to get inside to meet up with her friends for a day of play and doggie socialization. I guess she makes quite an impression as the people that work there just love her. She really is a charming dog with a great personality and is very loving.

I was told that she and a Westie played and played all day. Well, it was just what she needed as she has been curled up in a ball all evening fast asleep.

OK, this should have a picture but I haven't bought the attachment for uploading pictures from my digital camera to my computer. I only got the camera last spring and just never got around to it.

I'm ready to go up to bed to read and hate to disturb her but she needs a quick trip outside before she goes into her crate for the night.

Flown Off or Aren't I Witty

To get the whole picture, you need to go to my daughter's blog and read her posting on our bird family.

The baby birds have grown up and left home so momma bird decided to move too. Monday when I checked the nest, the two babies were outside of it in the newspaper tube and popped back in after seeing me. They were good size Carolina Wrens. Yesterday after work, I checked the nest while getting my mail and couldn't see anything inside. Same tonight after work so I think on Monday they were testing the outside world and their mother must have told them it was OK to begin their lives in the big world and off they flew.

Did everyone have to leave at the same time? My daughter and granddaughters left yesterday for JFK and their flight back to Moscow to their apartment and father. They haven't seen him since June 24th when they flew to the US to visit all the grandparents. They all were very anxious to see Chris and missed him.

Now I'll be counting the weeks until I take the same route and fly off to visit them for Christmas in Moscow.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Down To The Final Hours

The girls and I met my cousins at a museum this afternoon and only got home around 5:30. We had a very late supper of delicious meatball grinders (take out) from a great local Italian restaurant. We were too busy to cook.

While the girls and I were gone for most of the day, Tami packed, ran errands, cleaned up, sorted, packed some more, did an enormous laundry and turned in her rental car. She's now on the countdown.

I made a Staples run for her tonight for more cardboard boxes and packing tape. This happens each time they are going back. She is packing (again) but now it's down to the wire as the driver comes tomorrow morning to bring them to JFK. I just asked her how many hours she thinks she has spent packing and her answer was "a couple of days". This shows the breath and depth of what it takes to head back to Moscow. This time it's for a year as they won't be in the US in December as I'll be in Moscow for the holidays. Fortunately LOTS and LOTS went over with all of us when we visited in May. Thinking ahead for your needs for such a long time is serious business. Not only do you have needs like winter clothes for yourself and the girls, but birthday gifts for both of them, Christmas gifts for them, birthday gifts for their classmates (school custom is to give to each child in your class on their birthday), gifts to have on hand when you need one, things for the kitchen, etc., etc., etc. Tonight she was putting Annie's Mac & Cheese in ziplock baggies to bring back. Since Oxyclean is now sold there, she doesn't have to sneak it in inside a large baby powder container. She could qualify for a degree in packing. Unless you've had an expat staying at your house and packing to go back, you have no idea what a job it is. Take my word for it.

A LARGE part of her packing on this trip is for the school - books and games (over 350 pounds).

I have to say that the cardboard boxes from Staples or the UPS Store make great one way boxes. They are easy to pack, you can have your name and flight information on all sides, they are cheap and you can throw them away once they are unpacked. Remember in Moscow they don't recycle. When you live in an apartment, you don't have room to store lots of suitcases. They do bring some suitcases but she loves those cardboard boxes.

Tonight after her shower, Natalia came into my bedroom and just put her arms around me without saying a word. I knew what she meant. I told her that I'd see her again in 4 months and 1 week. She asked me how long that was. I told her that she knows that she just spend 3 weeks in camp. If she added a week to that, it would be a month. Then she has to think of that 4 times plus another week of camp. My "math" seemed to work as the answer satisfied her. I know that I'll be wishing away our CT fall (which I love) and looking forward to my final packing the night before my flight to Moscow before Christmas.

On Tuesday, think of us sadly saying goodbye and wish them a safe flight back to Chris. The girls do miss their dad.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Our Weenend and the departure

The girls' last weekend has been very busy with many errands, visiting cousins and friends, several meals at Panera Bread, finishing a memorial album, laundry and Tami's packing.

This year she got a headstart on her packing but keeps adding to what is going back. She has been buying English books for her school to start up an English library for grades 1 - high school. Let's just say she has bought a whole LOT of books and educational games to bring back. Of course the school will be paying for them. This is the one and only time that she'll have some of their baggage allowance that they personally are not using as so much went over in May with Rachel, Cecelia and moi when we went to Moscow. She figures she is bringing back around 350 pounds of books and games so that's a LOT.

During all of this, Tami has had a sinus infection. Don't worry Rachael as she went to my doctor on Friday and was put on an antibiotic.

Tomorrow I am off on a vacation day and am meeting my cousins and we're taking the girls to an educational museum that they'll love. This way, we are out of the house and Tami can get a lot done without us there.

The driver comes Tuesday morning and off they drive in the late morning heading for JFK. It's always sad to see them drive out after our goodbyes and know that it'll be 4 months plus a week or so until I fly to Moscow to visit them for the Christmas holiday. I leave for work after they depart and the house is like a tomb when I return home. I'll probably collapse on the couch and vegg in front of the TV with the dog as I'll be beat. The cleaning can wait until the weekend.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


You know you're no longer at Cecelia's when:

  • You don't wake up to Russian blinis cooking or the smell of cinnamon buns baking.

  • You don't hear the rooster crowing.

  • You don't hear 6 kids sliding down the front stair bannister.

  • You don't have kids coming back to the house from another "adventure" outside in the barn.

  • You don't have a dachshund running loose outside with the kids and other dogs.

  • You don't have two kinds of homemade ice cream.

  • You don't have freshly baked pumpkin, peach and blueberry pie.

  • You don't have 3 kinds of homemade cookies to nibble on all day long.

  • You don't have anything to do but eat, visit, laugh and then start the next meal.

  • You don't have 6 kids running around having fun being kids.

  • You don't have your own private bathroom (with a clawfoot tub) in your bedroom.

  • You aren't in a beautifully decorated brick federal period house decorated with antiques.

  • You aren't in a house that could be a B&B.

  • You aren't sitting at the long dining table typing on your laptop while 3 others around you are doing the same thing.

  • You aren't posting a comment on one of the other laptop owners' blogs, telling them and watching them click on their blog to read your comment (We were so nerdy.)

  • You aren't with your friends any longer (sob).

  • You are back to work.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Breakfast... Home-Baked Cinnamon Buns

I came into the kitchen this morning to the smell of cinammon buns baking in the oven. Cecelia was up early and had made the cinammon buns. The only kind that entered my oven at home came from the Pillsbury tube found in the refrigerator section at my local grocery store.

Every Christmas when Tamara was growing up, we opened our presents while eating Pillsbury's cinammon buns. I just told Tamara that I've never baked with yeast and her eyes bulged out.

Rachael and her kids are still asleep but Natalia and Katya has been up for a long time. They have been patiently waiting for the buns to come out of the oven.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Getting Back to Her Roots

Enjoying a "haystack" (taco salad) for lunch.

Liesel was enjoying her freedom and the chance to sneak some human food. Guess she likes haystacks for lunch too.

Liesel is returning to her roots as she was born in this area. My dachshund had just died and I wanted another one right away. Cecelia was driving home from work a few weeks later and saw a sign in someone's front yard that they had dachshund puppies for sale. To make a long story short, she found Liesel for me, took her to be checked out at her vet's and was her nanny for a week until I could drive up to get her. So, Liesel is returning for a visit to her roots.

Tamara (Moscow Mom from American Girls in Moscow), the girls (my granddaughters) and I are up visiting Rachael and her kids (Always Wanted 4) and her parents (Mother To Many) at her parents' in NY. We are having a Moscow reunion from our trip over to Moscow on Mother's Day Weekend. My granddaughters are loving all the freedom to roam outside on all of Cecelia's acreage, exploring the old barn, playing with each other and just being kids getting filthy dirty. Cecelia has been very busy in the kitchen and we're probably gaining 5 pounds this weekend.

When we are not outside, we're sitting at the long dining table with our 4 laptops lined up typing away.

I just heard the following comment, "I have my pj's on so I can slide down the long rail." Translated that means that they are sliding down the long banister from the second floor.

It's now raspberry jelly making time and then it's outside for games. To all of Rachael's family, WISH YOU ALL WERE HERE!

Going on a hayride. 

Welcome to the Blogosphere...

This is Tamara, a.k.a. MoscowMom, writing... VoilĂ  my mom's new blog. She wanted to give it try, so I just put this together for her. Ta da!