Tuesday, December 9, 2008

What's the Holiday Season without a Mall Post...

View of Evropeyskii Mall From 4th Floor

I've been meaning to post this for a while, but just hadn't gotten to it. Last year a really cool mall opened in the center of the city next to the Kievskaya train and subway stations -- Evropeyskii (
European). I guess they call it "European" because there are many foreign stores. The prices are quite reasonable for Moscow; it isn't one of the many "luxury" shopping malls where even the air feels expensive. 

Why do we like it? Great food court. Movie theater. Ice rink on the top floor with panoramic views of the city. Build-A-Bear. Parking. Chris and the girls like Igromax -- the center with video games, air hockey, etc. (I, however, hate places like that; can't stand the noise and feel it's a waste of time and money). 

This was a special trip for me and Natalia, "в двоём" (just the two of us). She had worked very hard to earn it...

The girls have been on a very strict "chart system" to improve their behavior/study habits/sleeping patterns for two months now. They get 100 points per day for perfect behavior (Yes, it has actually happened...) If at the end of the week they have earned a 93%, then they can choose between a variety of rewards. The psychologist had me include some really desirable incentives to motivate them, ranging from special one-on-one time to experiential treats to physical rewards... There are a range of rewards to choose from (basically, privileges they now have to earn) starting at 70% on a daily basis.

Thus far they've chose things such as a new movie for family movie night, ice skating, getting mani/pedis done by Mom, getting to choose and help make a weekend meal, etc... This time, however, Natalia had saved up enough points to make a trip to Build-A-Bear AND go skating. 

You've got to admire Natalia's thinking... Her optimism... Or her skills in manipulation...

The animal she chose to make? A turtle.

Why? It was the topic of Katya's research report that week.

Why, again? It wasn't for her.. She chose to make it for Katya.

Don't get me wrong; she was tickled pink to do something nice for her sister. But as she made it, she made little comments revealing her ulterior motives... "Now Katya will have to behave better, not yelling so much, since she'll have to earn a trip here to make an animal for me..." Hmm. Hasn't happened yet.

Natalia has, however, been able to simply hand Katya that turtle when Katya starts to treat her badly... That turtle is a physical reminder of how kind Natalia was, a nudge to be nicer... I also much prefer a turtle being passed around to nasty yelling!

Katya does intend to make Natalia an animal some time... Not that Natalia asked... It's taking her longer to earn it, though. Luckily she isn't too frustrated about it. Until she's able to actually go to bed at night (i.e. not staying awake for HOURS after bedtime, repeatedly getting up or trying to sneak a book) and also get up on time in the morning without yelling, she won't be able to. There has, however, been progress. Little by little. Day by day...

Natalia particularly loved making the turtle's birth certificate; she got to type in both English and Cyrillic. Her Russian writing is really coming along!

All in all, a successful day. I'm just not so sure that Asya agreed...


Tina in CT said...

Wonder what Natalia will be when she grows up? She has such a sweetness towards her sister and she also is quite shrewd. Smart thinking on her part about making an animal for her sister.

Beautiful pictures of the two of you.

As for Asya, she doesn't look too happy being a turtle.

Glad that the point/reward system is working.

Call me about Madeline stuff.

Tina in CT said...

You look like Dad in this picture.

Anonymous said...

I can not believe it - your cat looks good even in the turtle shell!
Natalia looks good on ice. Do you teach her figure skating?

Anonymous said...

sweet pics - tamara, your hair doesn't look that bad (my haircut a few weeks ago turned out ok, too). man, talia is getting older, beautiful girl : )

miss you!

Tina in CT said...

Now that I look back on Asya's picture, she doesn't appear to be thrilled to be playing dress-up in the turtle shell.

garnet said...

Oh, I love the turtle-cat!

Hmm. I think I may need to create some kind of system like that. Problem is, when do I ever have time to follow through. And I can't exactly go out on my own here in Nairobi. I'd love to be able to have special one-on-one time with Larissa but that isn't very practical.