10 for 2

There’s a saying in the U.S. (well maybe just the East Coast), that kids live “10 for 2”. They live thru 10 months of school to savor their 2 months of summer camp. It’s hard to explain this longing and phenomenon to my European friends since summer camp isn’t exactly in their vernacular. But I think it’s a universal feeling to hold a special place in your heart for summer. We have now been living abroad for almost 4 years and coming back to New York for the summer, to our own home, is increasingly more meaningful. And not just for the kids but for me too. When we came home that first summer, I didn’t know if we would/could jump right back into our traditional summer routines. On the one hand we were kind of a novelty and our experiences made for excellent conversation. But on the other hand, I didn’t quite know where to put myself. We had so many friends and family we wanted to see but I remember feeling stretched thin and somewhat uneasy. I was also anxious about the kids and if they would still “fit in” – whatever that meant. I couldn’t spend quality time with everyone and I didn’t want to cut people out either. It was tricky. But now, with time, we have found solid ground while truly taking advantage of our unique situation.

This summer saw a major change- Alex attended sleep away camp for the first time. He went off to the mountains in Pennsylvania to Camp Starlight – a special place for our family since my dad, brother and I all attended. He slept in a bunk with 8 boys and I can assure you he was the only one who didn’t live within a 4 hour drive of the camp. He engaged in nonstop activities (not only sports) and he loved every minute of it. He is the kind of kid who was meant to be a camper. It was strange for me at first but also amazing to know he was thriving in an environment so new and different. Sleepaway camp deserves its own post (maybe a later date) but needless to say, he came back and told me he lives 10 for 2!

Kate went back to her fantastic day camp with the same group of girls she met 3 summers ago. She also relished “just a bit” of individual attention. She got to choose whatever tv show or music she wanted. She got to choose weekend activities and preferred restaurants. She didn’t have to watch Alex play in a basketball clinic or fight over who got to choose the ice cream shop of the day. It was pretty amazing to watch her as an only child for just a little bit. But by the end of the summer, Kate declared that the house was way too quiet and definitely too boring without Alex.

And finally, after 4 summers away, I hit my stride too and truly know who are my real-deal people. Some naturally fell by the wayside but others stepped up in unexpected ways. This summer, I wasn’t wracked with guilt if I didn’t see someone. I can’t do it all and I always prefer quality over quantity. I want to spend time with my family. I want to spend time with my friends from childhood and the dear friends I met when my kids were babies. I want to take my favorite exercise classes and then get my favorite hazelnut iced coffee afterwards. Priorities. But seriously, I learned that my true friends always make time for me (even if inconvenient) because they know mine is so limited. They include me and my kids in anything they can, even (or especially) when Greg is away and working. They check in on me more than the average friend because they know my 7+ weeks at home is “different”. I think they now get it. You all know who you are (even if I don’t have any pictures of you!) so thank you. I’m super appreciative and grateful.

Lastly, Greg got to spend 3 excellent weeks with us at the end of the summer. And while it isn’t a vacation in the traditional sense (plenty of work calls and meetings), he gets to be in our happy place by the beach. He knows how important that really is to us. We enjoyed biking and beaching and paddle boarding and bbq’ing and drinking and hanging with our friends and family.

I haven’t had an interest in writing at all. I basically, completely unplugged myself from my life in Moscow for 2 months. Although I wish I could say I knew how to unplug from my phone, that never happened. Or happens.

We are now back in Moscow and the kids have been in school for 2 weeks. Finding our routine and rhythm again always takes a bit of time. Surprisingly, we are experiencing summer-like weather which eases the transition.

But I do still yearn for our summers. Sometimes I wish I didn’t feel like I was also living 10 for 2 but those 2 months have become extra special since living abroad. And since that makes all of us happy, I find absolutely nothing wrong with it. As always though, we have some fantastic trips coming up and so much to look forward to. First up, Tuscany for a wedding…without the kids! Happy back-to-school to all my friends at home!

The “Situation” Here

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It’s clear I’ve been in a writing rut for a while. After 3+ years of living abroad, I have never gone more than a week or 2 (surely not a month or 2) without writing. It has nothing to do with lack of ideas, inspiration or experiences. I have drafts upon drafts – the final recap of our January Thailand trip, our February ski trip to Austria, a March cooking class I taught, some kid/school activities and most recently, Venice.  

But last week I was jolted awake and it feels almost wrong not to acknowledge current events. I have zero interest in talking about politics and I’ve sort of enjoyed living in my protected bubble over here in our securely gated compound, attached right to school. I often tune out the horrible noise at home and in the rest of the world. But then something happens and you just can’t ignore. The expulsion of American diplomats didn’t affect us personally (clearly we are not diplomats and we are still living here), but it impacted our school community, our lifeline. People can debate over and over if the tit-for-tat expulsion was justified. But at the end of the day, I care about the people. And I care about how I frame it to my kids. 60 American families were sent home and it just hits so close this time. Almost 40 students (2 in Kate’s kindergarten class alone), 2 teachers, and the school nurse left. Families who have been here 3 months and 3 years. So many emotions. It wasn’t so much anger as it was sadness to leave Moscow and our community. I can only assume that the Russians who had to quickly leave America felt similarly in their situation. It was truly gut-wrenching to watch these American families rush to pack up their belongings without a clue where they might end up or where their kids might finish out the school year. I watched scores of garages (all on 1 street in our compound) open like dominos, as kids and parents put out folding tables so they could sell or give away extra items. Moving trucks lined their street for 2 days. Kids rode their bikes and played basketball amid the chaos. Everyone tried to instill some sense of normalcy. Everyone came together in any way they could. I was impressed by the strong attitudes of those leaving. The families who remain face their own challenges too. Resiliency is powerful, that’s for sure.

And that’s the silver lining to and the beauty of our situation. People ask me all the time about the Americans here. The truth is, I live amongst very few of them these days. Most of my close friends are from other countries. It doesn’t matter. We are all part of this unique community, bound by experiences that I’ve come to realize cannot be explained in mere words. It was clear that when the chips were down, very down, everyone felt it. And everyone therefore wanted to help. It was a sad day on April 6th when busses and then a 777 plane took all of these families (and all of their pets) away. It already feels a bit different but the school and the people who make up our broader community are special and I’m confident that we will maintain its vibrancy.

So to our many friends who reached out about the “situation”, thank you. We are all ok. Life continues here as usual, maybe just with eyes and hearts a bit wider open.

The end of the year

I’ve determined that the end of the year is always crazy, no matter which country you live in. And with school-age kids, it feels like a never-ending race to the finish. Holiday concerts, class parties, teacher gifts, helper gifts, Hannukah gifts, Christmas gifts, etc etc.

The past couple of weeks have been no exception.

The lights are up on our neighborhood:

We made gingerbread houses with Kate’s girl scouts:

We watched the kids sing everything from O Tanenbaum in German (Alex) to Jingle Bells (Kate):

We had a couple of Hannukah celebrations including one at my house with a giant inflatable dreidel:

We had holiday parties in school:

And we had some friends over for a big BBQ:

And lastly, we had a full-on winter wonderland recently. The snow was beautiful but it is still disconcerting to walk the kids to school at 8:15am in darkness.

So I can safely say we are ready for our vacation in the sun! It is the first year we’re not going to the States this time of year but we can’t wait for 2 weeks in Thailand with our close friends! I was there once before (9 years ago on our honeymoon) so I’m excited to go back with the kids. Details to come…

Poland Part 2 – Krakow

After 2 days in Warsaw, I was looking forward to Krakow. This city, once the capital of Poland, was not destroyed in World War II and it truly bears witness to the country’s rich history. This part of the trip wasn’t going to be less intense (or less emotional) in terms of programming but I had heard Krakow was charming and full of energy and that’s exactly what I needed.

This city is also home to one of the largest collections of synagogues in Europe, 2nd only to Prague. So it was fitting that we began with a walk through the old Jewish quarter called the Kazimierez; most of the synagogues are located here. It was immediately evident that this area must have been so vibrant in the pre-war times. The square was wide and beautiful and at its core, right at the top, is the Altshul, the oldest Jewish Synagogue in Poland. It now serves mostly as a museum.

Next was the Rema Synagogue, the smallest of the synagogues but one of only 2 still functioning in Krakow. And right there is the Rema Cemetery, burial place of many influential rabbinical leaders.

We walked around a little more, taking in the city’s character. We stopped by a local open air market and I could just sense activity in the air. It is hard to explain but I’ve now been to a handful of Eastern European cities and I appreciate seeing/feeling urban renewal with the backdrop of a historical, beautiful city. New stores and restaurants are visible but they fit contextually into the local atmosphere and they’re focused on moving the city and its people forward as authentically as possible.

We checked into the hotel and did a quick turnaround before meeting for cocktails and snacks. We were divided into groups of 5 each (mixing and matching ages, friends) with the objective of comparing and contrasting our experiences so far. And so we could learn from each other. I loved how well the educators and organizers successfully brought this large, multi generational group together.

We finished around 730pm and it was a rare free night. Groups broke off and I went with some friends to an Italian restaurant called Pino. It wasn’t particularly memorable but after 3 days of local food and boxed lunches, we all kind of needed this. Salad, pizza, pasta, and lots of wine.

Walking back to the hotel was a highlight because we actually stopped to take in the old market square, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and its architecture. Everyone was smiling and happy and (briefly) not thinking about the next day’s plans.

Another day, another early morning. We were on the bus by 7am, heading to the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex. All over the world, it is a symbol of terror and genocide and it was the largest of the Holocaust death camps. There are different parts to it and we would be learning about all. To begin with, we learned that group visits require a museum-trained guide. Our educators told us not to be surprised as the facts are presented quite clinically and without much color or emotion. But they implored us to be open as these tours are hard to give, especially when someone has to give them multiple times a day, multiple days a week.

We arrived before 9am and it was already cold wet outside. We began with Auchwitz 1 which housed mainly the central employment office, the political department of the Gestapo, and other workshops and warehouses where camp prisoners were employed. Today, these brick barracks have been converted into exhibition spaces with photos, facts, figures and artifacts. The information came thru clearly but there were certain rooms that were hard for me to stay in for more than 30 seconds. And you can’t “un-see” those 30 seconds. For example, there is a room filled only with the hair that had been shaved off of everyone before they were sent to the gas chambers. There was a room of leftover shoes. And one of just suitcases with names. And so on.

But it was Auschwitz 2, completely untouched since the war, that really got me. This was the center of direct extermination of the Jews. We walked along the train tracks that deposited the hundreds of thousands of men, women and children to death. We walked thru the wooden barracks that the Jews had to build for themselves. We literally walked thru the gas chambers and could see the holes in the ceiling where the gas pellets were dropped. We learned that it took about 40 minutes to kill 2,000 people in a space that could barely hold 1,000. And that it took 2 hours just to cremate 10 bodies. We saw the crematorium that ran nonstop for months on end. It was almost too much to bare. It was now pouring and freezing and my thoughts were only how could anyone possibly survive 1 day here, let alone several weeks before being killed or somehow saved. It felt impossible. All I (and everyone else) wanted to do was to return to the bus.

But of course we did not. We held another memorial service for all of the family members in our group who had survived, not perished. One woman told a powerful story of her parents’ escape but how she heard them cry often and never once asked them about their lives during this time. We heard stories of redemption and ultimate survival but also just too many of death and destruction. And with that, we finally got back on the bus to Krakow. But this time we drove straight to the light.

We arrived at the JCC Krakow to a flurry of activity. The director, Jonathan Ornstein, is originally from New York and, long story short, he has been in Krakow for years and he helped create this magical place where we learned about Jewish rejuvenation. I had met Jonathan a year ago and was super impressed by the community he has worked so hard to build and maintain. He told story after story of meeting people who found out they were Jewish at various points in their lives and didn’t know what it meant or what do to with it. His wife is one of those people. This center now houses a pre-school, adult learning classes, holiday workshops, weekly shabbat dinners and so much more. We spent time with members cooking pierogis and blintzes, singing and dancing, and meeting a local Holocaust survivor and her granddaughter. After our emotionally exhausting morning, this couldn’t have been a more perfect ending.

We finished the day with a group dinner where people shared their family stories and we all felt positive and uplifted, not deflated or depressed.

For our last morning, we took a small walking tour of the Umschlagplatz memorial, now called Ghetto Heroes Square.

And we concluded at the Galicia Jewish Museum where we engaged in 1 final meaningful activity. We were told to write letters to ourself about the trip and what we wanted to remember most vividly, what we wanted to take home and share. For 4 days, our emotions were running high and we all felt changed in ways that seemed hard to express. This was a way for us to self-reflect at a time when everything was still so fresh. These letters were then mailed to each of us so we could read them in a week or so and remember. Like the Holocaust, we should never ever forget. This trip was one of the most moving experiences that I won’t forget either. I’m so grateful I decided to go and I’m so fortunate that I got to share it with so many special women.

Poland Part 1, Warsaw

A couple of weeks ago, I returned from a 4-day intense learning trip to Poland. The experience is hard to describe and it took me a while to process- I couldn’t decide if I could write about it but the lesson is to never forget. The trip was fascinating, emotionally overwhelming and in the end, transformative. Sharing this experience with 79 other women from NYC (ages 30-75+) enhanced every aspect and gave me perspective in unexpected ways. Mothers and daughters, sisters and friends. 2 Rabbis, a Cantor, and our scholarly Rabbi’s wife. Everyone added something meaningful. We were joined by 4 educators/guides – 1 from Israel, 1 who was Danish/German and 2 Polish locals, 1 of whom found out she was Jewish only a couple years earlier.

I studied the Holocaust growing up, both in my public school and my Hebrew school. I have read a wide range of books (nonfiction and historical fiction) about Germany, Poland, Russia, survivors, saviors and the 6 million Jews who were killed. And yet I still wasn’t prepared for the magnitude of what I saw and felt.

The trip began in Warsaw as a reunion of sorts for me with many of my friends from home.

After a big group lunch, we made our way to the Nozyk Synagogue, the last remaining pre-Holocaust synagogue. We met the chief Rabbi of Poland, Michael Schudrich, and he talked to us about the history (and current status) of Judaism in Poland. Pre-World War 2, there were 3 1/2 million Jews in Poland. Only about 10% survived. Most notably, we heard stories about children and grandchildren who are first learning of their Jewish heritage. Their relatives, rare Holocaust survivors who stayed in Poland, went underground and kept their true identity hidden for decades.

We then checked into the beautiful Bristol Hotel and met up for an opening dinner where we learned more about our itinerary and discussed one of the main themes of the trip…”If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”. This became a sort of mantra and a smart one at that.

We took a walking tour of old town Warsaw, a city that was completely decimated in the war. It was rebuilt in the 1980s in the pre-war style and to me, it felt almost as if we were walking around a movie set.

On Monday, we began our day at the Villa at the Warsaw Zoo which was made famous in the book (and then movie) “The Zookeeper’s Wife”. Here, over 300 Jews were saved in underground tunnels and small rooms beneath the non-Jewish zookeepers’ home. The zoo is still in operation.

We then went to the district of Praga to see the few remaining pre-war buildings. We visited the Genesha Cemetery, one of the largest Jewish cemeteries in the world. It is so overgrown with trees and branches and most tombstones are worn down.

We took a guided tour thru the Warsaw ghetto and to the Umschlagplatz, the gathering area for the Jews before they were sent by train to the death camp Treblinka. The small crack of light in between the memorial represents hope for the survivors.

We visited the newly-opened MiPolin Museum of Jewish history and had a briefing with the Israeli Ambassador to Poland, Anna Azari. She used to be the Ambassador to Russia as well.

We ended our first full day with a dinner featuring local leaders of the Jewish community including the head of Hillel and the JDC. And we happily went back to the hotel bar for some much-needed drinks.

Tuesday was an early start- we were on the buses at 7am to make the 2 hour drive to Treblinka, the largest death camp in Poland. Leveled down by the Nazi’s, there is nothing left in this forest except for old stones that have been turned into monuments and memorials. The silence was deafening and eerie- it is so hard to imagine how/why this place could have possibly existed. We gathered in a circle to hold a memorial service honoring all of the family members of our group who were lost. And we were also paying respect to the hundreds of thousands who were killed here and who had no one to mourn their loss. There are really no words to describe it.

It was hard to just get back on the bus for 2 hours and then get on a train for the almost 3 hour ride to Krakow. But the distance and decompression was very much needed. We ate lunch, talked, napped and distracted ourselves from the heavy morning. We were all refreshed and revitalized when we arrived in Krakow…

A Rare Visitor 

I can say with certainty that Moscow is kind of low on my friends’ travel lists. The weather here is tough, we’re a far flight from the US (not to mention an 8 hour time difference) and the fact that you need a visa just complicates matters; the process isn’t exactly seamless.

So anyone willing to make the effort to visit us is gold in my book. Last year Hillary came from LA for under 2 days but she made it and it was well worth it. She planned it right before our Berlin trip and it worked out perfectly. Inspired by Hillary’s motivation, Rochelle recently visited us from San Francisco. Like Hillary, she planned it right before another trip. After Moscow, the 2 of us flew to Warsaw, Poland to meet up with 75 women from NYC for an intense 5 day educational trip. Much more to come on that but I’m still mentally processing it all.

Rochelle is like an energizer bunny. Always moving and she’s happiest that way. There was barely a minute of down time but that’s how we both like it.

She arrived on a beautiful, sunny Friday and we had lunch at my house before picking up the kids. Alex was speaking as a student council representative at an assembly so I took Rochelle on a small school tour first. It happened to be international day so all of the kids were dressed in clothes representing their countries – so many cool outfits.



Right after school, I hosted some close friends for wine and snacks and so everyone could meet each other.

Next up, we walked around my favorite Patriarch Pond area and then met Greg at our go-to sushi spot, Cutfish. Rochelle loves sushi (it was her request) and I also wanted her to see a “regular” restaurant for us. She loved it. But then, as if jet lag didn’t exist, she suggested we go out somewhere fun for drinks.

I decided that she needed to see the best views, from the the 84th floor of a skyscraper in the Moscow City area. Ruski Restaurant is chic and high-styled but the best part is the views and their real-deal ice bar. Of course we had to take part…and that meant putting on the faux fur and traditional valenok boots to keep us warm while shooting vodka.

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Saturday morning we picked up a coffee and went straight to the Kremlin and Red Square. It was cold and grey. Typical Moscow. I organized a short tour and it was great for me too since I hadn’t done it in years.


We went for lunch nearby and to some shops before heading home to see the family. My parents flew in that morning and aside from the fact that Rochelle has known them all our lives, I knew she would get a kick out of  the craziness that accompanies their “magic suitcases” filled with everything I can order from Amazon Prime.

Dinner was at the delicious Dr. Zhivago, right off Red Square. It is excellent Russian food but modernized. We ordered lots of traditional dishes (pelmeni and vinaigrette) while forgoing main dishes for caviar and blini. Not a bad night! And a perfect end to the visit. Our flight to Warsaw was 7am the next morning…


Moskvarium

A new, modern aquarium opened in Moscow just over 2 years ago to much fanfare. Hailed as the largest in Europe, it is housed inside the historic VDNKh Exhibition Center and has seen a steady stream of visitors ever since. We had never been but the kids had a day off from school so a couple of us decided to check it out. 

The “Moskvarium” (clever name) has over 8,000 animals on display as well as touch pools where you can actually get hands-on with stingrays, carps and starfish. But one of the main draws of the aquarium is the Orca (killer whale) show.


When I was little, my parents took us to SeaWorld in Florida. All of the attractions were outdoors and the famous Shamu killer whale performed with other whales – we got soaking wet while sitting in awe of such huge mammals up close. It was exhilarating. Over the years, animal rights groups have worked hard to stop these shows, saying they were inhumane and that these particular whales belong in the ocean. Most aquariums maintained that their whales were no longer fit for the open water but they have agreed to stop capturing more for the future. In addition, SeaWorld has changed their show to make the experience more educational and less about the showmanship. The same cannot be said of Moscow though. This aquarium has been under frequent protest, with activists claiming that the whales are held in too small an area and without any natural light. Experts say the whales can go deaf and insane in such conditions. But the show here is still running (at least for now). I wanted the kids to see these whales and also teach them a bit about the situation. Turns out the animals did their own “teaching”….


We got front row seats and were given ponchos in anticipation of the large splashes. The show started with beautiful beluga whales, perfectly performing with 2 trainers. They were huge and amazing. 


Next up were the dolphins. 


Then seals and sea lions. 

It was all cool and fun but the main attraction had yet to begin. The kids waited patiently for a while but they were getting antsy. And they just wanted to get splashed. The excitement was building as the music started again. 2 humongous orcas charged out and jumped right in front of our faces. It was incredible and quick and the kids unfortunately didn’t feel they got wet enough. But it was just the beginning we said. Unfortunately we were wrong. After that first jump, they swam right back to the tunnel where they came from. And they never returned. You could see surprised looks on the trainers and confused looks on the visitors. We didn’t know it was over until the lights came on and the show abruptly ended. That was it. The whales had staged their own protest. 

As my friend Maggie suggested, this was our teaching moment. We discussed it on the car ride home and the kids listened but were still disappointed. We had a great day though and the aquarium itself was well done. I don’t personally want to attend another show like this, it made me feel awful for the whales and went home and read way too many depressing articles about the situation here and in some aquariums in the Far East. But it was an experience and one we won’t soon forget. 


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Curve Ball

Upon our return to Moscow, I had a lot going on. As usual, we battle the 7 hour time difference while facing the daunting task of unpacking 9 suitcases (and 1 box). And of course there is the first day of school shortly thereafter. But this year we had an extra hurdle in front of us…a big move within Moscow. The major details are best saved for a later date but basically we decided to trade-in our fabulous city apartment for a house in the gated compound attached to the kids’ international school.

All was going smoothly until the day before move-in. I was in the new house checking on things when I somehow slid down 2 stairs. It’s hard to explain, I don’t even remember what really happened- I didn’t fall and twist anything. I just slammed down, hard, onto my left foot. It swelled up immediately and within an hour, an x-ray confirmed that I broke my 5th metatarsal. 

In my first 37 years of life, I had never broken a bone or gone to the hospital except for delivering the kids. In the almost 3 years since moving to Moscow, I have broken a toe, torn my meniscus and needed knee surgery, pinched a nerve in my neck and now, broken my left foot. It sounds ridiculous just writing all of that. Has anyone done a study on what happens to your body when you completely uproot your life? It can’t be unrelated. 

In any case, I’m ok just pretty much immobile. My mom and Greg’s mom were amazing and offered to get right on flights. They both live almost 9 hours away from us but in opposite directions. In the end, my mom came for 10 very necessary days. She missed my actual move-in but her help with the kids was invaluable. The mornings wouldn’t have even been possible without her. And I’m super grateful to my many close friends who came over to help the movers unpack, organize and somehow get every box out within 24 hours. Maggie practically lived in my house, perfecting every little detail and making it feel like the home I had envisioned. Friends were in and out with coffee, food, snacks, wine and moral support. The kids were constantly occupied and well taken care of.


My mom suggested I get a wheelchair because I would eventually need to leave the house and the crutches were for limited distances. It felt silly but turned out to be the smartest decision. After 10 days, I finally made it out. I’ve now been wheeled to a mall, some restaurants and most importantly, school. I got to watch the annual “Fun Run and BBQ” and I went to a class parent meeting yesterday. I’m thankful for my physically strong friends who wheeled me door to door! Our new home’s location, a stone’s throw from school, turned out to be the greatest gift.




During this time, Greg (fortunately or unfortunately?) was on a 12-day business trip around the world. He started in London, crossed the States from NY to SF, flew to China and then back home. He had his own whirlwind and (luckily?) missed the one going on here. I have had to rely on people in a way I am definitely not accustomed to. But I quickly discovered that my village here is vast and deeper than I had realized. I can’t thank everyone enough. In the end, I’m lucky that I don’t need surgery, that it’s only a foot, and that hopefully I can put this all behind me in 8-10 weeks. I’m eager to get back to my usual routine!!

Summer Came and Went

In the blink of an eye, the second half of our summer went by just as quickly as the first part. It was equally as awesome but it just flies… And with the end comes our new-normal. A little packing, a ton of fun plans, a little anxiety, a lot more packing, a couple extra runs to the grocery store and pharmacy, a crazy mad dash to get in our last licks to soak up summer. Literally and figuratively. Here are some end of summer highlights:

Every summer, my closest friends from childhood come out east for 2 great days. Including Rochelle, the 4 of us eat (usually sushi), drink (always rose), shop and just catch up. We never take enough pictures but we always pick up right where we left off and it is the best. 

I organized a special beach day at Gurneys Resort in Montauk. Sort of a belated birthday for myself but also just a way to have quality time with a bunch of close friends who I miss all year.


Once Greg arrives I try hard to go into more of a vacation mode as opposed to a “checking off boxes” mode. He still has a fair amount of work calls and meetings, but we managed to unplug a bit and the spectacular weather helped.  We spent many happy mornings on an empty beach with our iced coffees and newspapers. 

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We had good friends in town from San Francisco and hosted a big taco and swim night with all the kids. 


We went to camp visiting days for Alex and Kate. I love watching them in their element – running around with friends, playing sports, creating art and just having fun. 


I was so happy to have one of my favorite Moscow friends, Maggie, in the Hamptons. She was with her family in Sag Harbor for a week and it was great to be together and special for the kids to have a reunion as well. 


Alex took his first ever surf lesson with his friends Lucas and Charlie – and loved it! 


My parents came to spend one last weekend with us. It’s always hard to say goodbye. 

The kids finished their last day of camp and made the rounds and took pictures with their counselors, group leaders and most of all, their friends! Alex has been with the same group for 4 years and the kids just love each other. 

And we closed out the summer with a perfect last day – boating on the bay, a delicious BBQ (of course) and late night swimming with sparklers with our best friends, the Ludwigs. Our kids have so much fun together and we are lucky to be like family. We can’t wait to meet up again over Christmas in Thailand!

And just like that, it’s all over. We packed our 9 suitcases plus 1 box (of wine!) and back to Moscow we went. School starts early here so we’re already in the thick of it by the time everyone else is winding down their summer. It’s odd but we’re so thankful for the time we have back home- even if it always feels too short! 

Summer Home

Since we moved, every summer back in the Hamptons is the same story. In the best possible way of course. 

We always do a mad rush thru NYC to squeeze in every possible doctor appointment and errand (sneakers, clothes, drug store etc) before making the 2 hour drive (in an over-loaded SUV) to our house in Bridgehampton. We open the door, the kids run in and jump on their beds and I take in the beautiful air. That’s one of the last real, true deep breadths I take for a while though. I love every minute of being here but it is constant movement and organization and spending time with our closest friends and family.  Here’s what’s been going on…  

I love the tradition that my brother and sister in-law Julie have kept – every summer they come from LA for 2 weeks with my adorable nephews Charlie and Henry (ages 6 and 3). The big boys are like brothers and there is so much sports, laughter, teasing, competition, swimming and more. Exactly as it should be. Kate of course just wants to be a part of it and she muscles her way right in ther. And Henry is slowly but surely doing the same. 

My parents also take a week of vacation so they can be with all of us. They add much needed levity, fun (and hands) to every situation. Nothing like my dad taking everyone in the pool or my mom telling all of them a silly bedtime story that spans days. 

We love the Sag Harbor fireworks for July 4th and we always celebrate Evan’s birthday on July 6th with a lobster feast.  This year we had our close family friends in town- with all the kids and their kids- and it is so cool to watch the next generation. And also this year’s Greg made a surprise visit – it was only 3 days but it was an amazing 3 days. 

Alex and Kate are back at their favorite camp, Hampton Country Day. They get on a bus every morning and spend all day doing a wide range of activities from swimming and basketball to ropes courses, arts and crafts, dance and soccer. 


We make sure to have plenty of beach time.

We made it to the annual Bridgehampton carnival. 


And we love catching up with close friends. I especially love getting together with the families we met thru the kids – I met some when they were just babies and others when they started preschool together.  The moms and I have remained so close and I’m really lucky. 

Recently I took the kids to NYC because they were craving a “city” day. We went to the Intrepid, Eataly, Kids’ Math Museum and for lots of yummy food and ice cream. 

While in the city, we got to spend some quality time with the NJ cousins- Marina is now 12 and she’s definitely the smart, responsible group leader. And Josh (almost 10) was happy to talk electronics with Alex. They hadn’t seen each other since last year so it was a treat to watch them all happy together!

Now we are sadly at the back-end of our summer. But we still have so many good things coming up, especially Greg’s upcoming arrival. It will be busy as usual but in the best possible way!