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.