Category: <span>Play</span>

Labor Day is always bittersweet. It is the summer’s last hurrah providing families and friends with a sun-filled opportunity to spend time together before the start of the school year. We made the most of the three-day weekend starting with Ladies’ Night on Friday. Evan was meeting a friend of his for dinner/drinks and so the girls and I took Old City by force on a beautiful First Friday. They loved visiting the galleries and felt so sophisticated sporting their purses that Baba bought them in Budapest. 

Saturday was just as action packed with a visit to my in-laws for a bit of time in the country, followed by a double birthday celebration for our cousins who turned six and seven. I loved that my family gets together for kids’ birthdays and spends time together just being while the kids play. The rest of the weekend was decidedly lower-key and craft filled. The girls spent most of the day on Monday at their Baba and Deda’s house and the highlight of the day was their visit with my sister. I am so grateful that she made time for her nieces and they were over the moon from all the attention.

We did continue decorating and setting up Sophia’s room with goodies we find in our basement from our previous residences. I originally picked this rug out for Sophia’s nursery but we ended up putting it away in our house in Maryland after she started walking. It really fits into her space now and makes for a cozy play corner with her doll-house and a sitting pillow. We’re not ready for the school year and for fall in general but we did enjoy the weekend.

FriendsFamily Life Mom's Cooking Play Style

Full disclosure—we are actually homebodies. You may not think so once you hear about our weekend, but we can always rest and lounge later when the winter finally arrives and the snow starts.

Starting our Saturday in the most perfect way, we hosted friends of ours for a breakfast/brunch/lunch. I made sticky buns with a honey caramel and toasted pecans which were quite good and Evan whipped up an onion and red-pepper omelette. Freshly-made buttermilk pancakes and a butternut squash soup rounded out the menu. I can’t say this was entirely effortless, despite seeming like an easy menu but something about Eliza deciding that she needed to be cooking with me slowed me down. On the upside, I had the sweetest little helper.

Sophia and Eliza loved playing with our friends’ little girls who are three and 6 months. Eliza especially couldn’t get enough of the baby. She talked about the baby for the rest of the day. There was, despite the small quarters, plenty of hide and seek, puzzles, crafts and books. We rounded out Saturday with an evening walk to Franklin Square to see their holiday music and light show. Sunday brought Sophia’s dance class and a dinner out with some friends. Sophia and our friends’ son colored and practiced their spelling while we caught up over Mexican fare. It was a lovely night.

Between time spent with friends, we cooked, relaxed, lounged, knitted, hosted pretend tea-parties and practiced “reading”. See for yourselves!



Cookery Dessert Flavors FriendsFamily Hubby Cooks Life Play

Sort of like the song itself, I’ve dreamed of this weekend for so long. We were home, it was cold and wet outside, but warm and pleasant inside the house. First things first… we’re all stocked up on groceries and the tall list of things I had to cook have all materialized and are waiting to be eaten over the course of the coming week.

Besides cooking and crafting, I managed to take Sophia out to the mall. I wouldn’t usually brag about a mall excursion but Saturday was rainy but warm, and she’s been cooped up all week long. I did it more for a change of scenery than anything. I suppose that I could have taken her to a children’s activity but nothing is scarier than a group of kids with runny noses and sore throats. The mall is just a short ten minute ride away and as you know, Sophia is a terrible carseat rider. At first we thought it was motion sickness, but I am starting to think it may be a mean case of anxiety over being restrained. Anyway, the mall excursion started with tears and a tantrum signaling Sophia’s unwillingness to get into the carseat. After much cajoling and, I am not too proud to admit it–bribery, I finally got a stoic and resigned Sophia on her way to the mall where there were cookies and balloons. Our mission was to just window shop and get out of the house; That much was accomplished. In the end, she didn’t want to leave the mall… but lunch and these chocolate covered marshmallows (home made, of course) waited for us at home.



Aside from these indulgences which were requested by Sophia after watching George devour them on Curious George, we also made


a lamb roast, grown up tater tots with chimichurri sauce, stuffed peppers concluding our culinary activities with made-from-scratch breakfast this morning:


My sister got us a waffle maker and we finally whipped up a batch. You’re going to think this is crazy, but I’ve only had fresh home-made waffles maybe three or four times in my life. These were definitely the best! Sophia agreed … devouring a full quarter waffle :-). All those carbs must have been exactly what she needed to rouse up her inner artist.



Cookery Crafts Culinary Adventures Dessert Flavors Hubby Cooks Life Play Tiny Tastebuds

Sophia has lots and lots of toys. We’re fortunate though because most of them have been hand-me-downs and we have not had to spend a lot of money on toys. We did purchase a little red kitchen for Sophia because we cook a lot and she loves to help. We wanted her to have her own space where she can be a master, too. The kitchen was half off on Cyber Monday … and came in just yesterday. Evan spent a few hours putting it together and Sophia “helped”, of course. Here she is organizing all her faux foods…



Culinary Adventures Life Play

Just the three of us and just three days off. Memorial Day weekend came and went and I am here to report that we had a great time. First and foremost … as this dictates the fun-levels when hanging out around the house is weather. The rain held off as did the heat and the humidity. We spent hours outside at the playground, visiting the zoo, our local pool (we didn’t go in, but went to re-acquaint ourselves) and gardening. I finally planted those tomato and pepper plants and tried my best to fortify the garden to prevent little rabbits and chipmunks from snacking on our goodies. Sophia’s taken a keen interest in gardening and especially loves to smell all the herbs. She happily rips off a little mint leaf smells it and then urges hubby and me to follow suit. I hope this will help educate her that our veggies don’t grow shrink-wrapped in the supermarket.


Zoo1We also tried some new recipes like this chicken curry from none other than Bon Appetit.

MDayCurryand these beignets


… getting a shower of cinnamon sugarMDayBeignets2

… and tada!



… they’re light and fluffy and even our youngest gourmand helped herself to one.

But as healthy good as those beignets were, there is nothing like a fresh radish and scallion salad with a touch of sour cream (you can also use yogurt to dress).


I grew up eating salads like this one, and it is just a refreshing and welcoming spring greeting much like the weekend itself.


Cookery Dessert Flavors Gardening Hubby Cooks Life Play

Making the decision to immigrate was difficult not only because my parents were risking literarily everything they had but also because once the process had started, there was almost no option for changing your mind; You were a traitor because you decided to leave … and that would be mentioned and kept in all records and impact your whole family.

In order to immigrate, and besides going through the motions of obtaining the necessary paperwork and approvals from the United States, my parents – much like all everyone else would have to obtain permission to leave. It may sound like a trivial formality, but this was no joking matter. Plenty of those applying to depart the USSR (or a newly formed country of the former USSR) were denied. Refuseniks as they were called, were denied for mostly due on your education level or military status. It definitely made sense: the country was bleeding its sharpest, most educated minds directly into its most serious rival’s hands.

My dad’s military rank was a cause for major concern and to this day, I have no idea how he managed to obtain permission to leave. He did have to sign away his rights to all benefits otherwise earned through twenty six years in the service. It is ironic because in the late 1970ies, my mother’s sister emigrated to the United States with her husband and two daughters. My father was applying for admission to the Frunze academy shortly after her departure and in true USSR fashion, they needed to know everything about everyone in your family. Having a sister-in-law who resided in the US made my parents a ripe target for continuous and heavy surveillance and … more which I will not delve into on the blog but am happy to discuss privately. It is perhaps the sole cause for their posting to Baku instead of Moscow despite my dad’s stellar record.

The higher-ups there thought that posting him to Baku was the proverbial equivalent of the English shipping their inmates to Australia. Little did they know, it was the best thing for our family. First, my family was shipped off to the boonies in the 1980ies and now we feared the government would want to keep us close and never let my family go. Let go they did and we happily departed with great anxiety on August 21st, 1994.

Life Past Play

One of the best things about being a mom is that you get to learn how the world works through a child’s eyes and hands. It outweighs all the sleepless nights (16 months and still not sleeping through the night, by the way… just saying!), all the messes, the tears and tantrums.

One of my favorite things to do is read to Sophia. It is an incredibly peaceful time at the end of a long day where we both settle in and immerse ourselves in a series of magical worlds. I must say, that nothing has really changed and I still prefer books with pictures 🙂 and thankfully, so does she. Some books, like the Dr. Seuss series are fun and lighthearted and I can see Sophia tracing the various characters with her little finger. But then, there are those books that seem fun for her and are just magical for me. The Duckling Gets a Cookie is one of those books that she is starting to really enjoy and I can’t get enough of.

The Duckling Gets a Cookie: Courtesy of Amazon

The book, a gift from Sophia’s thoughtful aunt (my sister), is about a duckling who gets a cookie by asking for one and then tells a birdie how he acquired such a delicious cookie. The duckling ends up sharing the cookie with the birdie because it has nuts in it, and the duckling apparently doesn’t like nuts. The plot seems simple, but it teaches an incredibly important lesson: asking for something politely will almost always guarantee success.

We are still working on our courtesy words and their utilization, but reading the book this past few evenings has made me think about my life and reminded me that being polite, courteous and patient always pays off. Furthermore, it never hurts to admit that you cannot have something you want, that others may be better at something and that you need help. It is a mantra I repeat to myself often: don’t be too proud to admit that you need help.

Life Play

From the Rocking Chair Life Play

… for Sophia to play with. In fact, these are my favorite things, because these are her favorite things. Our house is filled to the brim with toys and books. Of those, the  majority provide a momentary distraction between the real play Sophia embarks on with the select few.