Monday, March 10, 2008

Building the Eiffel Tower

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...

12 comments:

Tina in CT said...

The girls did a beautiful job with their paper sculptures. I am amazed at how these are done and that the kids can do such intricate designs. You must quite the collection of them now.

I'm amazed that Natalia's friend has never been there.

I was blown away at the store when you took me there. It is a gem! I look forward to going back there when I come at Xmastime.

Annie said...

You are certainly multi-talented!!! (To say the least!) The murals are adorable! What an enormous apartment you have for Moscow - at least my other friends are not so well situated.

It was fun to see Detski Mir again. We got to go there in September for a birthday party - Ilya and I. My Sergei would love this as he is super with the paper sculptures. This seems something typically Russian....and so nice, because orphange kids can join in, paper not being terribly expensive. One of the first things Sergei did for me was make a tulip for me. I was so touched - and still have it!

Rachael said...

Such happy memories of that place! It was (is) awesome, unlike anything I've ever seen before!!! Katya's little paper horse sculture and suffered some scratches and dents (detached leg!) but I've tried to salvage it as it is such a special memento.

The food was great too.

garnet said...

My daughter would *love* this place because I'm not terribly crafty -- or maybe it's better to see I'm not too good at tolerating the messes that crafts involve. Poor child.

And the murals are amazing! I think I made a mistake showing them to Larissa as she kept asking why *they* got to have them. Uh, because their mom paints and yours doesn't. (Though I did make a fairly decent life-size Genevieve for a Madeline birthday party -- but of course my husband blew him up somehow onto a screen and I just copied!)

And the ballet barre. Little does she know that we've had a rod just perfect for making a barre across the mirror in her room for ages but have yet to get around to doing so.

We are *big* Madeline fans here. We have the dolls, a dollhouse, several sets of clothes, all the felts and puzzles, a game, all the videos -- though I did find some I'd never seen before available in Australia. Hmm . . . now that we finaly bought a multi-region DVD player . . .

However, my greatest triumph was finding an AG-sized and styled Madeline. She's so pretty. That took a lot of Ebay watching.

Sadly, the Madeline interest has been waning a bit over the past year or so -- I guess she's getting older -- though for some odd reason in the last few weeks theirs been a bit of a resurge.

On a totally different note, I teach high-school level English. I used to do all four grades but here at this school I'm only doing 10-12. It's an American school but starting next year it will begin to change over to a more international system (IGCSE) one grade at a time. I'm a bit nervous about that as it is totally unknown to me and we don't seem to be getting much helpful information. I'll also start switching to history classes as I think I'll prefer teaching that to lit (or at least it will be a change). When it comes to English I like teaching EFL / grammar better than literature or writing. I had the chance to do that in China and Romania and it was really fun. Well, my particular place in China was rather a joke but still it was enjoyable. So I found your posts on teaching very interesting. It seems like you're working with elementary level kids? Or all levels?

I just may take you up on the RG offer though at the moment we've got enough to keep us busy with borrowing from our neighbor. However, they are returning to the States this summer. We'll be there as well and I'll be looking to see what I can find.

garnet said...

Uh, excuse all the typos. Small screen and lots of telling kids to stop annoying each other.

Muddy said...

That sounds like such a fun and special place for you to take your girls. I love the Eiffel Tower your daughter, Katya made. What sweet fairies your daughter and her friend made as well! Thank you for sharing the experience.

Dina said...

O.M.G. I would say, where we are now, there is not ONE of the things in the entire COUNTRY that you have at that one place. Art supplies, craft-y lessons, restaurants. Wow and wow. Can't wait.

crispy said...

What great pictures. Love the murals. They are beautiful.

Christine said...

Is this place in Moscow? I think we have been there!

Katherine said...

Hi there! I came across your blog while searching the internet on how to build the Eiffel Tower. I love how great the sculpture your daughter built turned out. Would you mind sending me the directions? I would be SO grateful for your help! Thanks in advance.

Also, I absolutely adore your daughters' Madeline-themed bedroom! I used to watch the show all the time as a child!

MoscowMom said...

Hi, Katherine--

Do you read Russian? (The instructions are quite complicated and only in Russian).
Send me your email at tamara221 at hotmail dot com and I'll send them :-)

Tamara

Katherine said...

Oh no. How unfortunate! I don't read Russian so I'm guessing even if I try to translate it using a program it will end up being extra complicated. Thank you though. =)