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. www.americangirlsinmoscow.blogspot.com

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!