Saturday, March 1, 2014

What is life like on the other side of the world?

Well,  here's a look...

 the Upside Down House in the All-Russian Exhibition Center.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Beautiful Weather

We have had A LOT of rainy days.  The old pros in our neighborhood say this is the coldest, rainiest summer/fall they have experienced in Moscow.  But a little rain doesn't keep these guys down...

When we finally had a beautiful Saturday with clear skies we took advantage and spent the day at Kolomenskoye, a summer estate of the Czars. 

And we just happened to run into Benson's friend from school which made the grounds all the more fun to explore!

Special Days

1st Day of School

1st Birthday

Poor Amy's first birthday fell on the day our sea shipment arrived, which meant that towards the end of the day Daniel sent me a text reminding me to wish her a happy birthday.  I confided in a neighbor girl who was helping with the kids while I was directing the show with the movers and the next thing I know I receive a text from her mother asking when she can bring a birthday cake over.  Do I deserve mother of the year or what?!  

I actually didn't completely forget her birthday.  We knew a few days in advance that it was move-in day and decided that getting a house full of goods would be a pretty good birthday present for her and we'd make sure she had her cake a few days later when we were unpacked and could have a proper celebration.  We still didn't have a kitchen table and chairs so we're celebrating on the floor, but the kids thought that was great!  A picnic party!

We love this little girl!  She brings so much joy into our home!  Thanks for rolling with the punches Amy. You're a trooper!

Heading out to Father Son Campout at the Embassy Dacha

I don't know much about their adventure except that Dan reported it "a success."  They apparently played hard, ate well, and slept well despite the rain.  Spencer did manage to get his first tick a region with tick-born encephalitis.  That caused a few days of anxiety after the campout, but the campout itself was a great success and Spencer is a healthy boy!
Bike and scooter riding

A neighbor returning to the states left their balance bike behind for our boys.  Within the first few days Benson was riding it like a pro!  I love those things!
 A taste of Russia and a taste of home...Russian Honey Cakes and Krispy Kreme Donuts!

More Playgrounds

Playgrounds and fun fairs are not in short supply in Moscow and they all are so unique.  These aren't the cookie cutter playgrounds you find in the states...many have a distinct character.  And the codes here seem a little looser than we're used to, so I have to be a little more involved as they play but we put them to good use.  Here are a few pictures from some of our playground excursions...

The newest Muscovites!

Well, we did it...we made it to Moscow!  Here is a snapshot:

The anxiety I had built up for the flight was not warranted.  The flight was great.  The kids slept the majority of the time and when they were awake the gadgets, movies, and food kept them content.

We had to be creative when it came to entertainment in the hotel.  Here the boys are, "surfing in Moscow" as they put it.
And Dan tried to wrestle some energy out of the kids each night, but the jet lag won and the kids and I spent most of the nights in the hotel wide awake.  My goal was to keep the kids quiet enough that we didn't disturb the other guests there for the G-20 summit.  I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders.  If my kids kept these diplomats from having a good nights rest their judgment would be impaired and I would be responsible for the demise of civilization...  My jet lagged thought process might have been a tad irrational, but those were not the easiest nights for us.

While Dan was at work each day, I summoned my courage and took the kids on mini-excursions around the city.  We have seen a lot of playgrounds, parks, and monuments.

One of my first adventures out by myself with the kids was to the Moscow Zoo.  It wasn't too far from our hotel so I walked.  On our way, a security guard in a booth we walked past resorted to sign language to communicate with me after Russian didn't work.  I have had many people go the extra mile to try to communicate with me.  Very thoughtful.  But, this one stands out.  The security guard grabbed my hand, drew with his finger and did a little finger dance on my palm, guesstured forward, pointed to my children and used his finger to slit his throat.  I panicked!!!  I had no idea what he was trying to say until the throat thing and then wasn't sure I wanted to stick around to understand.  I'm sure I gave him a look of horror and just booked it down the street.  I was shaken up all day until Dan finally deciphered it for me that night.  The nice guy was trying to warn us of impending danger if we tried to cross an intersection up ahead...and had we tried to cross the intersection he was referring to he would have been right.  You do not cross big Moscow city streets, but we are able to navigate the underpasses fairly well.

Toward the end of our zoo trip, after dodging a teenage brawl at the entrance, purchasing tickets in my mutilated Russian, and trying our very best to blend in with the locals (which we failed at before we even opening our mouths) a lady switched over to English to ask how I got all 3 kids to the zoo.  She assumed we had taken the metro, which everyone does, and couldn't figure out how I did it with 3 kids.  I realized I was one of the few people there with three children...and the only one by myself with three children.  As much as I try to blend in...we do stand out.  But most of the time people are especially kind and thoughtful of us and if they are telling me I'm crazy, it's lost in translation!

One of my favorite moments was sitting next to a babushka at the zoo park and after our two sentence conversation when I had exhausted my language abilities she decided it didn't matter if I understood or not, we could still be friends.  So she just kept on chatting with me and playing with Amy. I couldn't translate the words but I could translate the spirit of them...  Human kindness at it's best.
Jet lag in action...

 After a few days in a hotel we moved to a temporary apartment just a few blocks from Red Square and it has been an amazing opportunity to live here in the center for a while before heading out to the suburbs for our "permanent" residence.  There is so much history and culture to experience everywhere we look.  Plus, it's been a good challenge for us to figure out logistics in a city apartment with little ones.  I am very grateful for an elevator in our building...I would have preferred it started on the first floor rather than the second but it gives me such a sense of accomplishment after a long grocery shopping trip to get 3 car seats, 3 kids, jugs of water for the week, and groceries up to our apartment.

Laundry has been another adventure...  I still don't know if I'm using the washing machine right and Benson is my dryer when the sun doesn't go fast enough.

Here are a few shots of our explorations around the city center.  But know that taking pictures is usually the last thing on my mind during our adventures so this is the best I can come up with...

Festival of flowers at Red Square.

  I should start a tally of all the playgrounds we stop at.

 This was a little fairy house at Gorky Park.  Spence was excited about something!

Lunch on the Moscow River.
 I Love Moscow!

 This is the Russian fabulist Ivan Krylov at Patriachy Ponds...
 and one of several statues of his fables...
We unintentionally approached the Bolshoi Theater from behind which was the perfect dramatic introduction for the little boys.  We came around the corner and they looked up to see the horses of Apollo's chariot towering over them.  They were fascinated!   That is until they noticed guys feeding the birds next to us.  Sight seeing with little ones is funny.  I never know what will catch their attention...sometimes they point out things I'd never notice but I'm grateful for their perspective.