Friday, August 26, 2011

Walking on the wild side

I took these pictures over a month ago but forgot to post them.  Sorry about that.

Anyway, sometime in July the powers that be decided to re-brick all the sidewalks in the vicinity of the Embassy.  Maybe they're doing it all around the city, but as I only walk about a three-mile radius from home, I couldn't really tell you.

So, the new sidewalks that have finally been completed look great.  But unfortunately, this improvement has rendered the sidewalks still-in-progress impassable for the last six weeks.  So we end up having to push our strollers into oncoming traffic. 

At this rate, by the time the sidewalks are completed, it will be winter and the snow and ice will have started to tear them up.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Come on babies, take a ride with me

We recently acquired a much-coveted parking spot on the compound.  Before, our car was in the parking lot adjacent to the compound, with access through a narrow turnstile.  Because it is physically impossible to get through that turnstile with two babies and a stroller, I had never driven alone with the kids.  Until yesterday.  I needed a homeopathic remedy, and the pharmacy is a little too far for an afternoon walk - about three miles each way.  Metro would have required switching lines (which usually entails at least two flights of stairs - also tough with two babies and a stroller), and the trolley didn't occur to me.  So we got into the car.

Shortly after these photos were taken, Z began to cry.

We found a parking space ...

... and walked to the pharmacy.  N is getting better at holding onto the stroller and walking with me, which is nice.

Zoia stopped crying once I put her in the stroller.

We purchased what we had come for, and stopped at a fruit stand to pick up some grapes, plums and apples, which Natasha promptly started to eat.  Then we got back in the car.  It was about 4 p.m. and the traffic was so bad that you don't have to worry about what I was doing taking the following photos while driving.  I had the car in park for most of the time (remember, three miles).

Shortly after Z finished her plum, she started to cry.  And continued to cry for 45 minutes more, until we arrived at home.  Kid doesn't like her car seat.  Thank goodness we never drive anywhere!

And shortly after I took this photo, N vomited fruit chunks all over herself.  All.over.  I opted not to take a photo of THAT.

And P.S. - Britax, seriously, hand-wash only?  Y'all be trippin'.  I put that sucker in the washing machine on the gentle cycle and hung it to dry.  No problem.

(Henceforth, we will resume our usual methods of transport - ambulation and the occasional trolley ride.)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

OK, I give in

I've spent the last couple weeks moping about the weather and the fact that I'm not at the beach (thus the blogging hiatus; I'm boring when I sulk).  But there's no getting around it any longer: It's truly fall.  It has been raining all weekend, and yesterday morning I curled up under a fleece blanket with a pot of hot tea while Jeremy took Natasha out to stomp in the puddles and Zoia napped.  Today when we went out, we wore fleece and raingear.

And despite myself, I kind of enjoyed it.  Summer shortchanges Moscow, to be sure, but fall goes by even quicker here, so I guess I'd better welcome it while it lasts.

This evening, in addition to this pot of tea, Jeremy and I will finish off these almond cupcakes with blackberry buttercream.  They were a solid effort - the frosting in particular is kind of amazing - but I will do a little tweaking before I enter them in the Hail and Farewell bake-off this Friday.  And I'll be sure to take photos this time.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

There's no place like OBX

This week is the start of my family's annual vacation to the Outer Banks, North Carolina (known on the East Coast as "OBX").  We have been going for years - I think the first time was when I was three or four, and we were going regularly by the time I was a teenager. 

In a life where we had to make new friends, decorate a new room, learn new customs and get used to new foods every three years, that time-shared condo on the beach was physical home to me and my siblings.  My youngest brother, who spent nine of his first 14 years overseas, called the Outer Banks "America."  Going home meant days at the beach, Nickelodeon on the television, mini-golf at the dinosaur place, and runs to the Dairy Queen at milepost 8.  And after high school graduation, while many of my classmates flocked to hipper locales like Ocean City and Myrtle Beach, my girlfriends and I rented a cottage in Nags Head.

Every summer, I dream about moving there for good.

This tradition wasn't really my parents' brain child.  They did discover OBX, but until I was in high school, we vacationed in the mountains just as often as at the beach.  Us kids weren't big fans of the mountain vacations, though, and we complained until finally, August at the beach became an annual tradition.  I think my parents are probably grateful for this now, because all five of their children share the OBX love, and I think it's safe to say that we will all always make our best effort to get there each year.

This year is the first time since 2005 that I have been unable to make it there and, I have to say, I am feeling a little melancholy. 
It doesn't help that autumn has been stubbornly inching its way into Moscow since August 1 - while we still have some warm and sunny days, there is definitely a subtle chill underlying the 70-ish temperatures, and today Natasha had to go out dressed like this.

It especially stings when I remember that, last year around this time, we were doing this:

Next year ...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Summer in a can

A new soft drink recently popped up in the snack kiosks around Moscow.  I first noticed it while dying of thirst during a long walk on a humid morning.  Cracking open the can, I thought it would probably be overly carbonated and sweet like many of the other local beverages.  I was wrong.  Meet Laimon Fresh.

It's a lemon, lime and mint soda that isn't too sweet and actually tastes like lemon, lime and mint.  Kind of like a nonalcoholic mojito.  Also, since we are in Russia, the land of bootlegs, it seems that there is an imposter on the market, as well.  The makers of Laimon Fresh issued a warning on their web site, and seem to be very concerned that someone might mistake the counterfeit soda for the real thing. 

As summer is ending here (you can be sure I'll be complaining about that in a day or two, once I've amassed some photographic evidence), I'm happy to know that I can keep a can of it in my fridge for emergencies.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Sushi and cream

Muscovites love sushi.  There are Japanese restaurants on every corner, but you can find sushi on menus at coffee shops and sidewalk cafes, too.  Last week we had lunch at a real Russian stolovaya (cafeteria).  And even there, they had sushi.  And wasn't bad, except that every roll had cream cheese in it.  Blech.  Raw fish and cream cheese don't mix well, in my book.  I've never been to Japan, but I think the Japanese probably agree with me.  Russians do love their dairy ...