Monday, March 29, 2010

Stunned but Safe

I just woke up here in Boston, only to roll over and check my email... And instantly I saw the flood of emails about the bombings that took place at rush hour in the Moscow subway.

I am so angry! This act of terrorism is personal! They bombed a station we use regularly and that I love dearly for its beauty—Park Kultury. I was just in there last week with both girls when we went ice skating; that's when I took these pictures. A major "transfer" hub, that station is also one used by a large percent of metro-using students and teachers from our school!

Marble bas-reliefs in the Park Kultury station

I immediately called Moscow (they hadn't wanted to wake us up in the middle of the night) and learned that everyone from our school is safe—but some of them were, indeed, in the station when it happened and saw it transpire.

My family rarely uses the subway during our actual commute; they're all fine. The girls are back at school and Chris is at work. (After a week at home, the girls were EAGER to return to classes and their friends—so much so, that they told our babysitter they were supposed to be at school an hour early this morning!)

The kids from Moscow will be waking up shortly and they'll start getting calls from their folks back home. (Considering that most of my students have ridden the metro more in their lives during our time in NYC and Boston, I doubt their parents use the subway that often, either—so I'm sure they're all fine!)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

For Sale by the Subway

Wallets and perfume, Moscow, March 19th

Roses wrapped in The Harvard Crimson, Cambridge, March 25th

Brilliant & Barren Harvard Women...

Another university, another Russian superstition! We ate in one of the Harvard dining rooms before our tour, and this row of students studying instantly caught my eye. My students also noticed! This would NEVER happen in a Russian university. First of all, the floor wouldn't be quite so clean... Secondly, you wouldn't really have wifi in the building...

And lastly? Why, everyone of course knows that if you sit on a cold stone, on the floor, or on any cold surface, you harm your reproductive organs.

I guess I'll be bringing back a whole bunch of reproductively-challenged students... The longer we're here, the more I see them sitting around indiscriminately!

Oh... And shhhhhhhh! They've even had ice in their drinks! (Another Russian superstition: drinking cold drinks will make you sick).

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Two Sonyas... Make a Wish!

Yes, here I am on Times Square earlier this week... Between two Sonyas... Which means I had to make a wish!

The girls were really funny. They were taking all kinds of pictures amongst themselves, when all of the sudden they insisted I get between them for a photo so I could make a wish.

Come to think of it, I had heard of that Russian superstition from Katya. If you find yourself between two people with the same name and you make a wish, it will come true.

As far as Russian superstitions go, I'll take that one!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Yum, Yum, Good...

Catching up with my dear thesis advisor from college and graduate school + Carvel mint chocolate chip ice cream + Times Square + success getting nine half-priced tickets in the orchestra section of "West Side Story" + 20 minutes dashing into American Girl for a surprise for Katya and Natalia + latte from Starbucks that cost half of what it does in Moscow + comfortable boots from the bargain bin at Aerosoles after getting blisters from the ones I was wearing= GREAT AFTERNOON!

Even in cold, nasty rain that lasted all day long!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Rooms With A View

Ben Franklin, along the Freedom Trail

The Chrysler Building, from my window

I'm in America for ten days right now with nineteen sophomores and juniors from our high school, plus three other teachers, touring New England universities. That's why I went so long without blogging... It was INTENSE planning this trip from start to finish. Really. Intense. Oh my goodness intense. I'm the only chaperone who speaks English, so the stress has been very high at times...

It was kind of cool having pictures from my blog, and a quote from my blog, in this month's Aeroflot inflight magazine again... I snagged some of the kids' copies from their seats to keep.

We're lucky to have ended up at some pretty swanky hotels after booking discounts and deals! (But don't get me wrong... There have been some real doozy complications to deal with along the way, and we're doing this on a tight budget). These are views we have had from where we're staying!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bad Day? Eh, Not So Much!

Can't you just hear Daniel Powter's "Bad Day" playing in the background? Yikes. They aren't kidding when they say not to park near buildings at this time of year. Falling snow and ice are no joke...

On the other hand, things are getting better quickly! There are no longer "ponds" to cross when you walk down the street. The water has pretty much evaporated... Or refrozen...

You can still see your breath when you breath outside, it's so cold... But you can just feel Spring around the corner. It's coming. Really! Truly!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Natalia's "Семейный Проeкт" (Family Project)

Natalia was very proud to present her "Family Project" to her class this week. She literally wanted to include HUNDREDS of pictures. It was VERY hard to get her to limit herself to the many we ended up using!

She decided what to say for each picture and helped to write it. She then stood in front of her class and told everyone about why she had chosen to include each picture.

That wasn't, of course, exactly how it went... She then told everyone about the various animals owned by the different people in the pictures, including the seven dogs that belong to our friends in Italy... Even what their butts look like... And how my in-laws' pug is in love with the neighbors' dog...

The kids all sat there with a glazed look in their eyes, not sure if they truly understood some of the random information... This was all confirmed the next day, when the mom of one of the boys in Natalia's class told me that he had comec home the previous day full of amazement about the oddities of America. "Dogs get married there, Mom! Really!"

Ah... We're such arbiters of culture!

When Katya was in first grade, she decided to have her project focus on our family's varied heritage. Her project was rather involved and quite historical. You can see it here.

You can click on the picture below to see it in greater detail. Beneath is what Natalia had to say.

"Моя Семья: Наташа, 1А"

Несколько лет назад, мы ездили отдыхать в Турцию. Нам так понравилось! Мы ходили в детский клуб и на детскую дискотеку... Там было замечательно! (A few years ago, we went on vacation to Turkey. We loved it! We went to the kids' club and disco... It was great there!)

Мы участвуем в русских традиции. (We participate in Russian traditions).

Очень важные члены семьи–Ася и Ляля. Мы их взяли когда им было 5 недель. Они самые хорошие коты на свете! Мы с ними играем, и спим, каждый день. Сейчас они большие! (Asya and Lyalya are very important members of our family. We got them when they were five weeks old. They're the best cats in the world! We play, and sleep, with them every day. Now they're big!)

Мы часто путешествуем, чаше всего в Америку к бабушкам и дедушкам. Мне вообще не нравится путешествовать. Это ужасно долго и тяжело! Здесь мы стараемся весело время провести в аэропорту. (We travel a lot, usually to visit our grandparents in America. I really don't like traveling at all. It's horribly long and hard! Here we're trying to have fun in the airport).

Когда мы путешествуем, Мама всегда нам маленькие сюрпризы делает, чтобы нам было легче. Здесь мы очень довольны своими новыми "Пет Шопс"! (When we travel, Mom always has little surprises for us to make it easier. Here we're really happy with our new "Littlest Pet Shops.")

Мы придумываем и ставим спектакли. Сейчас я часто музыкальный директор. (We think up and put on plays. Now I'm usually the musical director).

Мы любим кататься на самокатах, у нас у всех свой собственный самокат есть! Мы ждём не дождём весну, чтобы кататься по Москве! (We love to ride our scooters; all four of us have one! We can't wait for Spring, so we can go scootering again around Moscow!)

Мы помогаем друг другу когда мы болеем. (We help each other when we're sick).

Мы плаваем много! Здесь мы в Италии у наших близких друзей. (We swim a lot. Here we're in Italy at our dear friends' home).

Мы любим книги и книжные магазины! Здесь мы на литератуном кружке. Я первый раз выграла специальную книгу загадок! (We love books and bookstores! Here we're at the book club. I won a special book of logic games that day!)

Мы часто ходим по новым местам в Москве, а мне это не всегда нравится. (We often visit new places in Moscow, but I don't always like it).

Мы любим делать мыльные пузыркьи, дома и в парке! У Папы хорошо получается! (We love to make bubbles, at home and in the park! Dad is really good at it!)

Мы узнали в Италии, что вулканы ужасно пахнут! Рим нам очень понравилося! Там ОЧЕНЬ вкусное мороженое! Я люблю банановое! (We learned in Italy that volcanoes stink! We really liked Rome. There was REALLY good ice cream there! I love banana!)

Мы любим готовить вместе! Так вкусно! Мы учились приготовить настоящую пиццу в Италии. (We love cooking together! It's so yummy! We learned how to make real pizza in Italy).

Мы играем в фортепиано. (We play the piano).

Мы любим зиму! Мы играем в снегу, и катаемся на коньках. Я только что научилась кататься быстро! (We love Winter! We play in the snow and ice skate. I just learned how to skate very fast!)

Каждые выходные у нас "Семейное Кино," когда мы смотрим фильм на диване. Я это очень, очень люблю! Мы только что смотрели "Звук Музыки"—отличный фильм! (Every weekend we have "Family Movie Night," when we watch movies on the couch. I really, really love that! We just watched "The Sound of Music"—a fantastic movie!)

Мы часто едем в музеи. Наш любимый–музей, где "живут," как будто когда открыли Америку. Здесь я подпишу Декларацию Самостоятельности с пером. Девочки редко ходили в школу, но мы с Катей успели на один урок. У нас лучше! (We often go to museums. Our favorite is one where people "live" as if it were the time when they discovered America. Here I'm signing "The Declaration of Independence" with a quill pen! Girls rarely went to school, but Katya and I got to attend a lesson there. Our school is better!)

Мы любим Нью-Йорк; там огромный центр американских исторических кукол. Мы с куклами обедаем в ресторане! Мне очень интересно узнать про историю американских индейцев—и в магазине кукол, и в национальном музее американской истории. (We love to go to New York City; there's a huge center there with historical American dolls. We're having lunch with our dolls in that picture! I really like learning about the history of Native Americans—at that shop and in the Museum of National History).

Мы много смеёмся с бабушкой и дедушкой. Здесь мы смотрели фильм 3Д. Мы очень любим настольные игры; даже пёс Генри участвует! (We laugh a lot with Grandma and Grandpa. Here we're watching a 3-D movie. We really like to play games; even Henry, their dog, joins in!)

Когда мы в Америке, мы ходим по горам с дедушкой. Он нам показывает очень интересные места! Вот кого мы встретили! Мы стали "маленькими рейнжерами" и нам вручили эти значки. (When we're in America, we go hiking in the mountains with Grandpa. he shows us very interesting places! Look who we met! We became "Junior Rangers" and we earned these badges).

Когда мы у дедушки летом в штате Орегоне, великолепно бросать снежки на него! (When we're with Grandpa in the summer in Oregon, it's awesome to throw snowballs at him!)

Здесь мы катались на лошадях по горам в штате Колорадо. Мы были на территории где золотые прииски. (Here we rode horses in the mountains in Colorado. We were where there are gold mines.)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


A few weeks ago we celebrated Maslenitsa, but I haven't had a chance to write about it! You can read more about the lovely Russian holiday when people stuff themselves with blini in this post from last year... What fun that was; we spent the holiday at Chekhov's Melikhovo estate and engaged in all kinds of traditional Russian folk games in the snow.

The girls really loved the celebration they had at school!

First Sign of Spring

The ice has melted in the Moscow River and the ducks have returned! It's been great having so much snow (it really is pretty and it's fun to play in), but I will glad when parking gets easier...

Monday, March 1, 2010

March 1st... And Ready For Winter To End...

Sometimes you have to get out of your car to push other cars out of the way. Cars COVERED in polluted brown sludge. At least 60% of parking spots have disappeared, so it's hard to get around drivers' creative parking attempts.

Guess this guy is just staying put for a while! Note that all the snow is now m-e-l-t-i-n-g, and roads are now brown water canals. It really stinks when you think you're stepping in a shallow puddle, and it turns out to go up over your ankles!