Friday, March 30, 2012

So what happens when she won't wear it?

That's where we are now.  I am sewing like mad, but N is resisting my efforts to get her to wear what I make.  She only agreed to put on these pants after I told her we wouldn't go to the playroom unless she did.  I know.  I'm mean.

Maybe if I had made them in red or put animal appliques, she would be more amenable.  In any case, I love these pants, which I made of fine-wale corduroy using the After-School Pants pattern from Oliver + S.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Quiet time

We gave up on regular naps for our oldest about a month and a half ago.  Instead, she spends 90 minutes in her room, having "quiet time" every day.  Sometimes she falls asleep.

Note the crib mattress in the lower left-hand corner of the photos ... and the glider cushion on the floor in the last picture.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Family ties

My babushka left us this week five years ago.  I have thought about her a lot the last few days, while sewing for my girls.  My dedushka died when my mother was 11 - just eight years after the family had arrived on one of the last immigrant ships to pass through Ellis Island. To support herself and her three children, my babushka took in sewing jobs.

A few months ago, I received a package full of bits of bias tape, hook-and-eye closures, zippers, pins and other notions, all of which had sat dormant in the little sewing desk in the dining room for at least 15 years, since her eyes went so bad that she could no longer sew.  Before that, she used to make little dresses, nightgowns, robes and doll clothes for my sisters and me.  Like this little dress, which I think she sewed by hand:

In this package, among other things, were many pieces of cardboard which had been carefully wound with ric-rac of different colors.  I don't know how old they are - how long ago was it that you could buy ric-rac for five cents a yard?

I used some of that tiny red ric-rac on a blouse I made for Natasha this week.  Natasha never met her "pro-babushka" (great-grandmother), but I think she and her sister will be wearing clothes adorned with this ric-rac for some years to come. When I look at my daughter in this blouse, I smile, and I hope that Babushka is smiling, too.

Friday, March 23, 2012

It's transition time

My anxiety for spring to come is even greater this year, than last, because we are leaving at the end of May and hoping for some nice weather before then.  Moscow summers are short, but spectacular.  The city becomes a huge green park interspersed with buildings and river walks. Sidewalk cafes sprout up all along the pedestrian streets.  The sky is blue and the sun shines, and even though it only lasts about eight weeks, it's pretty awesome.  Fall's not bad either, but it is over in the blink of an eye.

And with post transitions, too, come regrets.  Things we didn't see.  Things we didn't do.  Why didn't we take walks along the river more often? (Because it's really hard to get down there with the stroller).  Why didn't we go to the opera or ballet more often? (Oh, right, because we had a new baby and I was terrified to leave the kids with anyone for the longest time).  Why didn't we do the Trans-Siberian Railroad.  (Self-explanatory).  I think I will need to get used to these sorts of nagging questions, at least as long as we still have small children. 

But I will also remember the Russia that we got to see BECAUSE we have small children.  How people would actually smile and do us favors while walking around the city (not a common occurrence if you are walking around sans children).  How Zoia charmed the candle stand lady at church. How people would nag me to dress my children better for cold weather.  OK, that I won't miss, but it's certainly an experience you don't get without kids.

So I can live with all the things we didn't do.  My greatest regrets are the people we didn't get to know well enough. The folks I kept meaning to invite over for dinner, but colds or flus or just plain exhaustion intervened.  The people with whom I know I could have struck up great friendships, if only there had been more time.  I hope that, at our next post, I'll take those opportunities as they come, and not push them aside.  And in the meantime, I guess we still have a few weekends left to throw a party.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The only blooming trees in Moscow

It's still winter here (as anyone who has been around me for five minutes can attest - I grumble about it all the time).  But we came across some trees in full bloom last weekend.

These are metal trees installed by the city to hold padlocks placed there by lovers who inscribe them with their names.  The trees were put there to stop people from padlocking the bridge.  I had to laugh at Tikhon and Evgenia's outsized purple padlock, though.  Guess they wanted to stand out.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Moscow St. Patrick's Day

So, first of all, it was "warm" yesterday.  Mid-30s.  The girls did not have to wear snowpants, as their tights and fleece-lined jeans were sufficient for several hours outdoors.  In the morning, we headed down to the Stariy Arbat (a souvenir-shop-ridden pedestrian street not far from the Embassy) to see the parade.  Having never been to a St. Patrick's Day parade before, I was a little surprised to see that goth and the occult seemed to dominate.  I have since been told that is not normal for St. Patrick's Day.  Moscow makes things its own, I guess.

There was also the obligatory fur-hatted Russian marching band.  They played some John Philip Souza, which I found pretty funny (again, not knowing what is normal for St. Patrick's Day; but somehow I assume this isn't, at least not in Ireland).

Then there were these caped "inquisitors."  It reminded me of the group of students at my high school who wore all black, complete with knee-high moccasin boots and long flowing capes.  I didn't know the term "goth" back then, but I guess that is what they were.

I overheard this woman giving an interview in English, explaining that she was an anglophile.  She gestured to her costume as if to say it was evidence of her passion.  I wouldn't have characterized that costume as "English, but maybe "slutty witch" is now universal?

And then there were these guys.  Again, being a St. Patrick's Day newb, I thought maybe they were some traditional Irish thing.  I am told they are not.  In between dancing courtly dances, the animals up on stilts leered at the crowds.  They were creepy, yet captivating.  Natasha loved them and keeps asking to see the "bolshaya svinka" (big pig) again.

They were accompanied by this three-piece band of, I believe, Russians, who played lively Irish music that was not creepy.  That was really cool.

They were also accompanied by these guys.  I am not sure what they were supposed to be, but the costumes were pretty awesome.

There were also a bunch of young hooligans on stilts (again, I thought maybe stilts were a St. Patricks' Day thing - but apparently they aren't).

And some random characters.

And a few Irish setters.

 Oh, and Groupon was there too.

In the evening, we went to a party at the Marine House so that the girls could see the live band playing Irish music.  They were fans.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Atelier Mama, continued

The feverish sewing continues.  This week I have a massive failure and a couple successes to show off.

First, the ruffle-butt failure.  This tutorial has been circulating on Pinterest.  I had pinned it awhile back, but mentally filed it under the category of "things to make when I am better at sewing."  Coming off my recent spree of commercial-pattern success, I felt confident to try it.  Although the tutorial author's version was lovely, I can't help but wonder whether her back bodice was weighed down and stretched out by the very heavy ruffle skirt.  Because that is what happened to mine.  I tried a couple different things to fix it, but none of them would have worked without my opening up the back bodice and having to add a closure of some kind.  And by the time I figured that out, I was fed up, and no longer as enamored of the dress as I had been.  The back sash was unfinished and I was planning to put some cute rosettes there.  But now this dress is in the scraps bin.  I guess failures are normal in sewing.

On a happier note, this is the Junebug dress from Craftiness Is Not Optional.  It is a gift for my niece.  Super, super easy to sew up.  Took no time at all, and I'm so pleased with it.

I made this sweet little shirred top using a really light cotton I found in a fabric store here, and this tutorial.

I went back to the shop today to get the same fabric in yellow and pink, so my daughters and niece can all coordinate this summer.  Also - like how my girls are about the same size?

Two more Oliver + S patterns.  This is the 2+2 top.  I modified it by omitting the sleeves.  I love this fabric and wish I had bought more when it was on sale at

And these are the Puppet Show shorts.  Also love this pattern and see a lot more of these shorts in my girls' future.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Spring is ... nowhere to be seen

The last couple days have been tauntingly sunny.  I bundled the girls up and took them to the playground on Thursday, where they swung happily while I faced the sun and soaked up months' worth of Vitamin D despite the 20-ish degree weather. 

Thursday was March 8, or International Women's Day.  The Russians really like this holiday.  There were signs all over the city reminding people of it.  Jeremy took advantage of one of the impromptu flower stands that sprung up outside the metro (in a city already overrun with flower stands, I might add) just for the occasion and brought home these:

They are currently in the windowsill of our office/spare room/sewing room.  I am not sure how long I will be able to keep them alive, but for now they are making the room smell amazing.

And I guess the ducks swimming on the no-longer frozen river is actually proof that spring is on its way ...

but the two feet of snow outside our back doors beg to differ. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Afternoon at Luzhniki

We spent Saturday afternoon at the snow palace at Luzhniki Olympic Complex, the site of the 1980 Summer Olympics. I was pretty impressed with the ice buildings and amusements for the kids; it made up for our disappointment at Sokolniki.

There was a huge snow fortress complete with a cannon.

There were also icy sledding slides in two sizes.  The taller ones were quite steep, and Jeremy and I had to ride down with the kids.  I will confess that, even riding on my bum (as opposed to on a sled), we went a bit faster than I would have liked.  The kids, however, wanted to keep going.  Guess this is payback for my insistence that my father ride the Thunder Mountain Railroad with me at Disney World 25 years ago.

OK, it doesn't look that big, but trust me, it seems a lot scarier from the top.

The big hit, though, was the ice pits full of plastic balls.  Natasha saw them and exclaimed that she wanted to "купаться" (bathe) in the balls.

In case you were wondering, this is how you get babies out of a huge bowl-shaped ice pit:

Sorry for the dark photos.  I realized after uploading that I had had my camera on the wrong setting the entire time.  Oh well.  You get the idea.