Friday, February 28, 2014


Every Tuesday, the soup at sadik is soup with "frikadelki". I'm not entirely sure what frikadelki are but as it's a soup with vegetables and meatballs and I know the word for vegetables, let's call them meatballs. Every Tuesday Zoltan tells me he had his very most favorite soup today.

As any good mom would, I went looking for a recipe for this soup. I found this one. I loved the photos to show step by step what it all should look like. I used Google Translate when I wasn't entirely sure what I needed to do. And I added breadcrumbs to my meatballs because they were not coming together without it.

It was fast - definitely within 1/2 hour. Zoltan of course didn't want any, but I took it for my lunch (in Alex's thermos) for after skating. It hit the spot! This is definitely being added to the roster ...

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The final piece of the puzzle

I am thrilled to report that the final piece of the puzzle has been put into place. This week I hired a lovely lady to take care of the children in the morning and get them where they need to go. I am now free to be excited about the upcoming A-100 class!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Soon to be a working mama

When Terry joined the foreign service, I quit my job as an attorney in Philadelphia so that I could accompany him all over the world. I conveniently became pregnant two weeks after my last day at work and being a mom has been the bulk of my "employment" since then. Even when I was CLO, I was never away from home/the children more than 8 hours a day, 4 days a week - including commute.

What this all means is that the whole family is about to get thrown into a huge turmoil. Chores that have been mine for the last 7 years now need to be shared. My children won't even see me in the morning when they wake. I have a feeling I'll spend a lot less time on Facebook.

I am both excited to once again be a professional, and terrified about how the family will adjust to the new life.

On the whole, though, I am mostly excited - especially as each piece of the puzzle fits into place. Zoltan was easy - he can go full time to his preschool, and he's finally becoming comfortable there.  Both days this week he played with everyone; he told me yesterday he likes speaking Russian.

For Alex there's been a lot more anxiety as those darned snow days last week made it impossible to call facilities to see if anyone had any space in March. As it turns out, the after school care center that I walked to in 10 minutes actually takes the kids outside EVERY DAY. In rain. In temps as low as 15F (yeah still plenty warm but lower than the school's outdoor recess policy so I'll take it gleefully). They tell parents to bring boots, umbrellas, whatever. They do kitchen projects like make vegan cookies or homemade play doh. Did I mention they go outside every day and are a 10 minute walk from home? They also have a summer camp that books up week by week so if there's any gaps in the Russian camp there's a backup.

The very last piece of the puzzle is morning care. I'm meeting a woman today and if it isn't a good vibe I have a few more applicants I can call. I am also amazingly lucky in the friends I have made in since we got here - two fellow moms have offered to pitch in if I end up short. Think about it. These people have known me barely 6 months and are willing to take my children in at 6:30am and get them to school. I didn't think this kind of thing happened outside the foreign service, where 6 months is an eternity and people become each other's "emergency contacts" within weeks.

Monday, February 17, 2014

It finally begins

It makes no sense at all, but three times is no longer a coincidence. Something about having a cold/being sick makes Alex's GERD act up. She was sick last week and coughing up a storm now (even though she didn't have any stuffiness or runny nose during the illness!) Interestingly, the tummy bug of last month did not have the same effect.

So, it finally begins. Three weeks off dairy. If that doesn't stop the coughing, three weeks off soy. Then gluten. Please if it's anything let it be dairy. I'm a little excited to try a 100% dairy free yogurt, for mine I've been using starter with some skim milk in it.

Sunday, February 16, 2014


In an attempt to take it to the next level, I have sought out breadmaking books and recipes. This is a seeded ale boule from Kneadlessly Simple. Although the bread stuck to the cast iron pot (not supposed to happen) and I cut my fingers on the crust trying to get it out (with real blood, although none got on the bread).

But isn't it so pretty?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

USA vs. Russia

When we were researching St Petersburg before moving to post, we read one random piece of advice to the effect that it's better to buy your laundry detergent in Russia rather than bring a favorite brand, because only Russian detergent can get rid of Russian strength dirt and grime.  This put firmly into our minds the idea of "extra strength" Russian dirt and grime, and by corollary, Russian germs.

Fast forward to now. Last month Alex has her very first ever tummy bug. This week she couldn't enjoy the two snow days with her 102 fever, headache and exhaustion. Again, very first time to be sick like this. She's 6 years old.

I say American germs win. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Snow day!

Yesterday might very well have been the first snow day that we were actually in Maryland for and that I decided was completely legitimate to shut everything down. It doesn't hurt that Alex was under the weather anyway and I am now looking directly into the whole "two working parents" thing starting in just a few weeks, so that a family snow day is especially special.

Here's Terry measuring the snow in the back yard. If you can't see, it's 11".

And here's Terry washing his fur hat in the snow as instructed when he bought it in Russia.

And the children playing in the snow, in the hour or so during which Alex was feeling fine.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Eating out of the pantry

Back when we thought I would start working in January we started to load up the freezer with dinners and leftovers to make weeknight mealtimes easier. Then it didn't happen. Then we realized we didn't have any more plastic containers. Or room in the freezer for anything. We also realized that our budget had sort of relied on a second paycheck starting in February, so there was some rejiggering to do there.

All of that combined to produce the "pantry challenge". I am 100% confident we can live off our pantry for at least one week, excepting a few weekly necessities. I have allotted $20 as part of the challenge to load up on milk, eggs and fruit. Depending on what kind of dent we make, the challenge might run 2 weeks. I'll post how it goes.

Tonight we're serving up leftovers from our housewarming party last night. Pumpkin and spinach ziti, or Spanish rice? It's fun to have options.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

National Building Museum

Most parents around here who have been have raved about this museum. It's one of the few in the DC area you have to pay to go to ... but then there was a Certifikid coupon ... and cue up our family outing.

We didn't realize that the parking meters near the museum would be 2h limit even on a Saturday, and we hadn't brought quarters. The museum shop will give you quarters but only $2, which will last one hour. It turned out the meter we parked at was broken, only discovered after feeding several quarters into it, and a parking enforcement guy happened by just as this was going on and told us what we could do (call a number on the meter, give them the code for the meter and get a confirmation code back - then we could park free for 2 hours ... or rather, park for the cost of the quarters we'd already put in)

But I digress.

I do now see why the reviews by single adults are not as enthusiastic as the heaps of praise given by parents. There are a few interesting exhibits about building stuff. We poked into the current exhibit about Los Angeles and some of the architecture and infrastructure projects over the last 60 or so years. The rest of the time we played.

There's a room with various types and sizes of building blocks. Some are small enough to put together on the very large light up from below table (pretty cool). The chairs are made of the same sturdy foam and have some of the shapes of the pieces.
 Then there were the much larger, almost child size pieces wherein Alex built herself a little house to hide in. Around the room are showcases of various types of building blocks on the market in various parts of the world over the last century or so.

The Building Zone is only for children ages 6 and under, so this will be our last and only year. Tickets to this room are included in admission but you get a specific time you can go and only get  45 minutes to be there. The kids loved it. There's a mini house decked out with a kitchen, living room area etc. There's a slew of costumes of various professions (it took a bit to get Zoltan out of the fireman jacket), a train table, a car carpet, various forms of building objects like Magna-tiles, soft foam blocks, plenty of enormous Legos - the kids and Terry built a house here too.

There's a reading nook with (almost) all books about building and construction.
 In short, 45 minutes is barely enough time but I like that they restrict the numbers so all kids can easily get to all activities. When we got home, both kids napped for 2 hours. Verdict? Yeah, we'll go back for sure. 

Monday, February 3, 2014


Alex has been asking for a fish for a little while, and I know Terry has missed having a pet around the house. A few weeks ago we got the aquarium and set it up, worked to get the water to the right pH and such. Then things got busy, we went to the cabin, etc. We finally got around to welcoming five new fishies into our lives. Being guppies, one female was pregnant when we brought them home and delivered within the first week. It will be exciting to see how many babies survive into adulthood - the cycle of life acting out in our own home!

Edited to add: a few weeks into this new experience, illness has struck. One adult and all the remaining babies have fallen to Ick. Yes, that is really the name of the disease. We're hoping to keep the rest alive.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

A place for everything, and everything in its place

Once we got through Tummy Bug 2014, there was the one last basement chore I'd been wanting to complete: the organization of the play room.  There are still a few stragglers - the dresser that needs to move to its new home in the study/guest room, the toy workbench we've been trying to sell on craigslist (Anyone want one? We can't sell a thing on that site to save our lives.). But as of today, every item either has a reasonable home, or has been thrown away or packed away for future rotation. I'm proud of the results.

couldn't resist one pic from the epic tummy bug