Have a Beautiful (Easter!) Weekend

Hello dears,

It’s been a big week – Miss Anna has been sleeping through the night! Yesterday she slept from 8:30 pm until almost 6a.m. (and then, after a little snack, all the way until 10pm!) I was in shock. I can’t even tell you how incredible it feels to get a full night of sleep! I think our tortures were due more to jet lag (after traveling back and forth to the U.S.) than anything else.

In celebration, here’s a few links for your weekend browsing:

P.S. bunny photo found here.


Holy Week in Moscow



Ever since Anna was born I’ve had such a hard time reading my Bible, praying, making it to church, or maintaining any sort of spiritual life. I think that’s pretty normal for a new parent, but still, I miss that part of my life. I definitely didn’t do Lent and I barely remembered that it was Easter this week!

If anyone else is, like me, looking for a few last-minute ways to celebrate Holy Week in Moscow (or elsewhere!), here are a few ideas:

  • Read this lovely devotional written by a talented friend of mine. It really made me stop and think about Good Friday differently.
  • If you, like me, are having a hard time reading your Bible, you might try listening to it instead. There are lots of sites/apps, but I’ve been enjoying this one this week for a chapter over breakfast.
  • Are you looking for a place to go to a Good Friday service in Moscow? I’ve heard this one is beautiful.
  • Also, you may remember this post if you’re looking for a church to attend in Moscow on Sunday. They should all have services, most of them in English
  • Make a traditional Easter kulich cake, and then go have it blessed at your local church. Kulich recipe here.

P.S. For those of you on instagram, here’s the branana bread recipe I was talking about …


Quote(s) of the Week: What Real Russians Think About Ukraine

photo of Vera Slovyakina by Sergey Ponomarev / for NBC News

“Russia has its own special path. Its not Western or Eastern — but its own. What we have now is more or less all right. We don’t have a national idea, but we need one. The idea should be: the most just society in the world and the richest.”

“Maybe that is what is driving the country forward — the hope that something good will come. But there is no foundation that we can see for this.” -Vera Slovyakina

A friend of mine produced this story for NBC. It’s absolutely gorgeous. If you read one thing about Ukraine and Russia today, read this!

“I think that the isolation is already beginning. At the moment, they are focusing on the government officials and corrupt figures, and everyone promises that it will not affect average Russians. But our state is such that we will build up an Iron Curtain ourselves.” -Evgeny Streltsov


Russia’s Open Book: Writing in the Age of Putin

I’ve often wondered what turn contemporary Russian literature has taken. It looks like this new film my answer my question!

Russia’s Open Book: Writing in the Age of Putin asks the question ‘Who is the new Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, or Gogol waiting to be discovered by the English-speaking world’? It includes interviews with Russia’s top contemporary writers and excerpts from some of their recent works – looks like something I’ll be watching while I finish some ironing this week!

You can read more about the film here, and watch it on YouTube here.


Have a Great (April) Weekend!

“Pears in Window, Moscow” by Sam Abell, National Geographic

Hello friends,

Congratulations on making it to the end of the work week! Any fun plans for the weekend? I’m planning to make this for breakfast on Saturday.

P.S. Isn’t the above pears photo gorgeous? It looks like a painting. You can find that and another 49 of National Geographic best photos for a desktop background here.


Moscow Spring Light (and baby naps!)

Hello dears,

It’s finally starting to feel like spring! Last week’s snow has melted, the weather yesterday was gorgeous, and I have apple tree buds starting to pop in a vase on my windowsill. Most importantly, however, is the light. The sun rose at 6:38 this morning, and will set at 8:25. Almost 14 hours of daylight!

I normally loooooove Moscow’s spring and summer white nights. I’m sort of dreading it this year though – Miss Anna Grace’s eyes pop open as soon as it’s light out, and I’m struggling to get her to take naps during the day. I’ve started putting tin foil on our bedroom windows.

Do any of you more experienced moms have advice on getting babies down for their naps? At the moment we’re swaddling her, turning on a fan for white noise, and making the room dark. She has refused to take a pacifier, so the only way to get her to sleep at the moment is with a bottle or nursing (which not only leads to burps that wake her up soon after going down, but is also not a great habit to get her in).

I’ve read about 4 different manuals on building good sleep habits in infants, but haven’t had much luck so far. Any tips??

Other than that, our family is totally ready for spring. Bring on the warm weather, sunshine, and green!

What’s your favorite part of Moscow spring?

P.S. baby pram photo found here


Photo Exhibit: Best of Russia 2013

photo by Vladimir Zadumin

I know that this isn’t a post about Ukraine – I feel like I only have depressing things to say about the situation at this point.

Instead, I want to tell you about a fantastic photo exhibit going up in Moscow – The Best of Russia 2013. They put this collection of photos gathered from around Russia every spring, and it’s my absolute favorite. Check out some of this year’s entries:

photo by Violeta Reigite
photo by Andrei Arkhipov
photo by Nikita Pozdnyakov

Gorgeous, right?

And here’s a video:

Best Of Russia from Best of Russia on Vimeo.

You can see the official site here (all pictures and video posted on this page can be found here). The exhibition runs March 27- May 18 at the Winzavod Centre for Contemporary Art.

Will you go?


What’s Different in Russia Since the Crimea Invasion?

Russia’s invasion of Crimea was so unexpected. I think that it has really started to change the atmosphere in Russia, and the way that Russia is viewed by the rest of the world.

I have a friend who just got back from reporting in Sevastopol (a city on the Black Sea’s Crimean Peninsula currently under dispute by Ukraine and Russia). She said the atmosphere there was incredibly tense. What surprised her most was how rabidly people seemed to express their opinions. Not only were they definitely in favor of being a part of Russia, they also seemed to think anyone of their own who thought differently was a traitor. She described watching grandmothers attack a young girl who was carrying a Ukrainian flag.

Most Russians are very much in favor of Russia’s Crimean takeover. For many of them it seems to be proof that Russia is reemerging on the world stage as a country to be contended with.

In Moscow, and much of the rest of Russia, the atmosphere is increasingly nationalistic, and anti-Western. It feels like a slow return to the Cold War.

Another American friend, traveling on a train in Siberia recently, said he found himself in a train car with a group of Russian men who made very clear how much they hated the West. At the end of their conversation, they admitted that while they still hated America, he was all right – not what they would have expected from an American.

For some other Russians, however, this new shift in atmosphere is a signal to leave. A recent Moscow Times article argued that the Crimean Annexation was pushing some Russians to emigrate:

“I feel fear,” said Valentin Dombrovsky, 28, a businessman who plans to move to Germany. “I honestly express my thoughts and write what I think on Facebook, and no one has come after me, but I think the current situation in Russia is close to the state of a terrorist attack, when you do not know when it could happen and who could be targeted.”

Another American has written that the Crimea annexation has made life in Russia more uncertain:

“Are we headed for a new Cold War? I don’t know. But I do know that decisions being made to punish Putin or punish the United States or punish Ukraine are really just punishing ordinary people who may have a wide range of views on geopolitical events but who mainly just want to go about their completely normal lives.” -Lara McCoy Roslof RBTH

For economist husband and I, Russia has started to feel less and less stable. With sanctions and visa bans in place we worried recently whether or not I’d be able to get a Russian visa. We’ve wondered if things would get so bad that he’d have to hurry out of the country. We lost a significant amount of our savings and salary a few weeks ago when the ruble fell.

Of course, many many things are still the same in daily life. Especially for someone like me who’s currently home most of the time with a baby. But there are small changes here and there – economist husband’s company has recently switched their company debit cards away from Visa to not rely on an American financial services company. The constant nationalistic, anti-Western rhetoric on Russian television starts to get to people, not to mention the decrees and orders from on top that impose sanctions, and force people and companies to make changes. Not to be dramatic, but it feels like things are going to go downhill in Russia quickly.

What about you, fellow Muscovites? Do you feel the atmosphere in Russia has changed in the last several months? What about those of you in the U.S., Europe, and elsewhere? Do you view Russia differently now than you did before the Crimea Invasion?

PS. Russia map image found here.


Saying Hello in Russia: Quote of the Week

David Hallberg in front of the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow. by Dmitry Kostyukov for The New York Times

“You say hello differently in Russia than you do in America, I think. Sometimes it’s just a nod. I smiled at a woman in an elevator today and she looked at me twice. And then she sort of gave me a nod. So I’ve adapted to that.” -David Hallberg

The differences in greeting people was one of the first things Bolshoi principal dancer David Hallberg noticed when he moved to Moscow. I remember noticing that people here spoke much more quietly than they do in the U.S. I felt like some enormous trumpeting elephant when I first arrived!

What about you? What was one of the first cultural differences you noticed when coming to Russia?

P.S. quote found here. Also, check out this amazing video of Hallberg dancing.



Hello friends,

Economist husband and I are currently taking a break from work and spending time with family. There hasn’t been much time for blogging, but I’m looking forward to picking things back up at the end of March.

Until then, just a few links for your browsing enjoyment:

P.S. Cat photo found here.


Writer Wednesday: The “Aha!” Moment

I found this fantastic article with interviews from the New Yorker’s cartoonists last week, and I loved this quote they had about creativity:

For me, it’s always darkest just before the “Aha!” moment. I am wallowing in crappy ideas, considering all other career possibilities, and procrastinating by any means possible. -Kim Warp

Sound familiar? So…if things are looking dark with whatever project you’re working on, that may be a good sign. Keep pushing through!

P.S. “outside the box” cartoon found here.


Happy Women’s Day!

Willy Ronis Le chat derrière la vitre, Gordes, 1957

Happy March 8!

I always love riding the metro on Women’s Day – it’s like being in a flower shop with all the bouquets. Even though the holiday is officially on Saturday, most offices are congratulating their female colleagues today. So – Happy Women’s Day!

Hope you all have a great long weekend…


Great (Christian) Parenting Advice


A couple of friends threw me an amazing baby shower back in November. There were games, presents, a handmade banner, and quite possibly the most delicious chocolate cake I have ever tasted.

One of my favorite cards contained a little list of 5 pieces of advice from one of the more experienced moms in the crowd. I think it may be up there among the best words of wisdom I’ve had yet about this whole parenting thing.

Thought you might enjoy reading:

  1. Always keep in mind that, as parents, we can and must teach our children of God’s mercy and love but there is no formula that will bring them to faith. God is the only One who can reach their hearts. To think otherwise is to trust in our own effort rather than God.
  2. There is no such thing as a perfect parent. Therefore it is good to remember continually that your love for them and for God ‘covers a multitude of sins.’
  3. Do not allow the opinion of others to unduly influence the choices you make on behalf of your children. It is fine to listen with an open mind but in the end what is right for some children could be completely wrong for yours…I believe that this is why the Bible doesn’t contain a child rearing manual. The combination of your personality and talents and the personality and talents of your child are from God. He uses the combination of these to create the person He wants each particular child to become.
  4. Study the way Jesus interacted with His disciples. There are many ways in which He interacted with them and taught them which can be applied in raising children – ie. He allowed them to fail. He didn’t lecture them and leave them, rather He allowed them to come along with Him in His ministry and taught by example (and much more). And just for encouragement – He did get exasperated with them from time to time!
  5. Pray, pray, pray, pray….

Isn’t that beautiful?

What’s the best parenting advice you’ve ever received?

P.S. The truth about parenthood. Made me laugh :)


Happy Friday!

photo by Igor Lagunov, Magnitigorsk


I’m so glad it’s the weekend. Economist husband has been out of town on a business trip the past few days, and he’s finally back. We are so ready for a few days off together!

By the way, this is the last post in February – tomorrow is March 1! The first official day of spring. Which means I can congratulate you all on not only making it to Friday, but making it to the END OF WINTER!

A few links for your weekend perusal:

P.S. the photo of the babushki and the kitten was found here.


Writer Wednesday: Confidence and Creativity

Grace Kelly

One of the most difficult things about writing for me (especially nonfiction!) is getting up the confidence to write something about which I know very little.

Confidence in writing is a problem for both fiction and nonfiction. For nonfiction you wonder if you’ve done enough reporting to tell a true version of a story. What if you missed something? What if you’re biased? What if you haven’t included enough angles to give a clear picture of a very real situation? For fiction, on the other hand, there’s the fear of not telling a story well; of not arranging your words and sentences in a way that’s compelling and clear; of filling your pages with cliches, or sounding dumb. There’s always the fear of failure. And it’s not just a problem for writers – you need confidence in any creative field. You have to have the courage to just put your work out there at some point.

I remember being in awe of my coworkers my first months on the job at a news agency. Their articles, bolting out reports in short, unadorned sentences struck me as courageous and larger than life. They reported on their subjects with confidence, and just seeing their words on the page in black and white seemed to make the stories true; right. Reading their work on a computer screen, I felt their writing was so much more legitimate than my own.

I still struggle with this. Another word for it is perfectionism. How can I have the confidence to write about something that I’m not necessarily well acquainted with? There’s always someone out there that knows more than me about any given subject I’m writing on.

Ariel Levy, a staff writer at the New Yorker, had a solution for this issue that she described in an interview with Max Linsky. What she said is:

The story is more important than your ego.” -Ariel Levy

In other words, there is always a chance that you will mess up whatever it is you are writing, thus subjecting yourself to humiliation. In the end, however, it is more important to finish your work and write your story than it is to avoid embarrassment. Don’t let your ego get in the way of finishing your work.

I find that incredibly encouraging.

Are there any projects – writing, creative, or otherwise that you’re working on, and struggling to be confident with? Any advice for the rest of us?

P.S. the podcast with Ariel Levy’s full interview can be found here.

PPS. The Grace Kelly photo was found here.