Last weekend we met up with friends at Mir Dyetstva (literally, "World of Childhood," not to be confused with Dyetsky Mir, literally "Childish" or "Children's World--the huge toy store chain with headquarters at Lubyanka).
Still weak from the pneumonia, I thought this would be a good place for me to relax while the kids played in the indoor gym area and then had paper sculpture lessons. Hah. I'd forgotten how crowded the complex can be on weekends--and it was packed with huge groups for birthday parties. (Moral of the story--get there before lunch on weekends or go on weekdays. Remember that the menu is 15% off on weekdays and they have an excellent business lunch).
In any case, our friends had never been there and they loved it. What's not to love??? The first floor has: a coat-check; shop with a good selection of arts & crafts supplies, books and educational toys for kids; a florist; a huge "pirate ship" play area where you can check your kids in for a fee for an hour; a workshop where kids get one-on-one lessons in making jewelry, beaded crafts or paper sculptures; a party room; and a fantastic cafe with all kinds of nooks and crannies where babies and small children can play. On the second floor you'll find: another shop with toys, toiletries for babies and children, clothing and shoes for babies and children, and strollers; a coat-check; another restaurant (same as downstairs, but a bit more formal) and a playroom for kids while you're eating that can also be rented for parties. On the third floor you'll find: a children's dentist; more studios for paper sculpture, drawing and painting lessons; offices for speech therapists and psychologists; a large "Mommy & Me" room where they offer a variety of classes; and a puppet theater. This place is fantastic!
We've been there a handful of times this year; two in particular stand out in my mind. Katya and her best friend, Amanda, had their last play date there before she moved back to Sweden... and we brought Rachael and Katya there while they were waiting for Katya's USA passport after her adoption. It's so much fun to bring people there for the first time; it's like entering a fantasy world with all the unexpected design and colors and people are always blown away.
This particular visit Katya was eager to build something really challenging. The Eiffel Tower. It cost quite a bit more to make such a complicated structure, but it was worth it. Katya got a two hour private lesson with Lev, the director of the studio, and he had fun doing something more interesting than the standard fairies and animals. He has known Katya since we first moved here in July of 2004; Chris had discovered the place on the internet and we spent many an air-conditioned afternoon there. Lev has seen Katya go from not knowing a single word in Russian to fluently speaking the language today; you can tell he has a soft spot for her. He even e-mailed me the directions about how to make the tower. I'm not sure I'll be tackling that project any time soon, but let me know if you're interested...
Natalia and Amelie had fun making fairy friends. They were best friends at the Russian preschool they used to attend and they joyfully reunited and ran around the whole building. We all had a delicious meal, too. My kids adore the "Pirate Pasta" (carbonara) and I had my usual "Vegetable Olympics" salad, a latte and a new dish... black pasta with shrimp and roasted tomatoes. Yum!!! The food there truly is noteworthy and kid-friendly; you will not be disappointed!
The last little gem from the day... Madeline is now translated into Russian! I was so excited to get a copy! Now I'll be able to show it to people when they come over and wonder about the murals in the girls' bedroom that I did in 2004. We should find out soon if we'll be allowed to extend our lease... Then I'll start thinking about redoing the walls in a different theme...