Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Why We Confiscated Calvin and Hobbes

Our children have enjoyed our Calvin and Hobbes books on and off in the past, but at the beginning of this summer they discovered them again and absolutely loved them, especially James! 

Of course, when something is "loved" by our children, that also means it gets very well-worn. Too well-worn! Some of the books were beginning to fall apart -- corners getting crumpled, pages falling out, covers coming off, etc. We do not have a super nice set of books, but at one time they *were* new!

Jon and I would often remind the children how they needed to take care of the things they loved. But, it's a hard concept for young children (like my boys). On the other hand, these books gave James and Bruce hours of entertainment; it was wonderful!

Unfortunately, Calvin is not the best example for growing children. That goes without saying, I think. Thankfully, some of the stuff being said or done by Calvin would go over their heads, but then again, the incredibly talented drawings often explained it all. The boys often never needed us to read to them. The pictures alone would send them into ample giggles.

Jon and I would occasionally put the books in "timeout" if we found them left on the floor or not put away properly when they were done reading. But, the "last straw" that made me confiscate them for the remainder of the summer happened one day in early June.

Our family had gone to Izmaylovo Estate to get family pictures. This is something I had been waited to do for a long time, and I take family pictures very seriously. It takes a lot of effort and energy with our size of family to do pictures nicely, so I was really hopeful that something would work out. Most of the pictures were unusable, and in the end there was only one good picture. Unfortunately, in the ONE good picture of our family, James looked so silly! Later on, as we were returning home, James and Bruce asked if they could make silly faces in the picture, and I finally figured out what James was doing.

Family pic

Waiting at the bus stop

The culprit

Did you find the two faces of Calvin that James was mimicking? I bet at one time James had held the book in front of the mirror at home and practiced these faces. What a goof!

You know, James may look silly in our family picture, but I don't really mind anymore. James is just in an extra silly stage of his life and his personality shines through in that picture. That's pretty cool.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Russian Princess Kasandra

Our lovely Kate in her fancy, traditional Russian dress at Tsaritsyno Park. 

(Kate's dress also came with a silver vest, but it was too big for Kate. We got the dress large so that she could grow into it which made the jumper longer, and the shirt was fine, but the vest wanted someone a little more...bucksome.)


Last summer we went with some good friends to Tsaritsyno Park and had a really wonderful time. It was beautiful! They mentioned that in the evenings the fountain had lights and music, but it was under construction at the time. Ever since then, I've wanted to return.

Tsaritsyno estate was purchased by empress Catherine the Great and she had a palace built, but she died before it was finished. They never actually completed it until recently.

We stayed up WAY after the children's bedtime to wait for dusk/sunset to enjoy the fountain.

The fountain, and palace in the trees 

On our way home, the children were full of excitement and energy from our fun outing. As we walked across a bridge, I noticed an older lady behind us yelling, but didn't think anything about it. However, when I looked back again, I wondered if she was looking at us. I asked Kate if she was yelling at us and she said yes. The woman apparently didn't like James's volume. I know James can be loud, but we were OUTSIDE and I hadn't even noticed his voice among the large crowd of talking people around us. The lady had dyed purple hair (which isn't uncommon among the older ladies in Moscow - seriously), and I joked, "I don't think someone with purple hair should be yelling". To that, Jon replied, "I don't think someone with purple hair should complain about others being *loud*."

Flushable Toilet Paper Roll

I love that we can flush this Zewa brand toilet paper roll! Brilliant!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Messy "Devil's Dye" Medicine

a.k.a. Satin's Stain

William had sores on his face a couple weeks ago that we couldn't treat ourselves, despite our many attempts. So, we took him to the doctor and found out he had a staph infection (impetigo?) and she gave us some medicine to apply 2 to 3 times a day.

The medicine was bright pink and it stung when applied. Oh, it was evil stuff! William, Jon and I hated it! It was one of those times when you had to be a mean parent because you love your child.

William would kick and scream whenever we had to apply the medicine. It took both Jon and I had to hold William down and apply the medicine, but still, spills happened.

William and me


Our little man looked like a clown for a couple weeks!

But, he was still our handsome little man!

SO glad to be done with that medicine!

Red Square

I really wanted to get family pictures at Red Square before we moved, So we went last week with our friend, Spring. 

I think St. Basil's Cathedral is such a gorgeous building!

Jon wanted a picture in front of the famous clocktower.

Gum mall, the most beautiful mall I've ever been inside!

Kate really wanted a picture in front of the "red building" (The State Historical Museum). We went inside that museum on July 24th.

After pictures, we found a grassy spot outside the square and had a nice picnic with Spring.

Black Swan

Kate LOVES stuffed animals! She sleeps with about 10, I would say. It kind of bugs her daddy that she has to have them all on her bed. Because of our many moves, though, we don't let the children keep too many stuffed animals. They can get too bulky.

Kate finished reading "The Trumpet of the Swan" not too long ago, and just loved that book! (She's our little bookworm.) Afterwards, she was inspired and drew, colored, and painted tons of swans. 

She didn't realize there were such a thing as black swans until she saw this stuffed animal at the store. She completely fell love!

Unfortunately, almost everything is more expensive in Moscow, and this little fella costs $100!

Sorry Kate. :-(

Izmaylovsky Park

From our new apartment, we only have about a 10 minute walk to Izmaylovsky Park. It's so easy to get there! Our path takes us right to the lake and the large ferris wheel that we used to be able to see from far away from our old apartments windows.

A couple weeks ago everyone grabbed their "adventure bags" and we packed a lunch and headed to the park to make a day of family fun.

Feeding the ducks with old, stale bread

I love my four little lambs!

We found a really nice playground and the children played there for a long time. 

Unfortunately, after a while Bruce needed to poop. It is not uncommon to see people squatting by nearby bushes and trees, but I just haven't gotten there yet with my family, no, so we walked around for a long time to find a public restroom. I'm so glad we found something, sans toilet paper and soap. No worries, I had Kleenex and hand sanitizer.

We had all hoped to let the children ride some of the rides at one of the amusement parks, but they ended up being so expensive that we couldn't justify the price. We still hope to someday get back to Disney World, so we encouraged the children to try something else.

In a few open areas of the park, you can pay money to get a turn on little cars or fake animals. Our children have never driven one of these battery powdered cars, so it was an exciting experience for them. I think it still cost over $10 in the end, but we felt it was a decent compromise.

Kate and William shared a car because we didn't trust William's driving skills. Look how scrunched up Kate is, she's getting so tall!

James was VERY happy with his car!

Poor Bruce got a little ripped off because his battery kept disconnecting from the wire and his car would randomly stop. Jon would have to run over and reconnect it so Bruce could continue. So, Bruce didn't get a fair 10 minutes in his little police car.

I think a lot of tourists go to Izmaylovsky Market, but miss the park across the way. It's definitely worth checking out, If you're visiting Moscow! It's a beautiful forested area!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Kremlin at Izmaylovo

Probably one of my favorite places to visit this is the Kremlin at Izmaylovo. We have visited it several times this summer. It is right next to the Izmaylovsky market, which makes it convenient. 

We live almost next to Izmaylovsky park, but it takes about 20-30 minutes on the tramvi to get to the market.

I love the vibrant colors and unique architecture of the Kremlin at Izmaylovo. It's not a historical place, but I still think it's uniquely Russian. 

This place seems like a magnet for weddings. You always see brides and grooms getting pictures taken around the square. I think there may even be at church inside.

William ran ahead of Jon and me and then stood, staring at the sign with arrows. It was like he was wondering where to go next.

There are several mini museums in the Kremlin at Izmaylovo as well.

They have a museum of vodka. I'm curious what's inside and how they can make a whole museum of it, but we've never actually been.

We didn't actually tour the bread museum either, but we enjoyed some yummy pastries in the mini café!

We did go with some friends to the toy museum. It cost our family 200 rubles (about 7 dollars). It would've been more interesting without having to worry about our toddler not touching anything. Jon and I spent most of the time taking turns pinning William's hands together. I don't blame him for wanting to play. :(

Honestly, the coolest thing in the toy museum was this spider in an unusable doorway.

There are tons of these cut out face boards for you to get pictures.

Kate and I discovered this old king during a recent girls morning out when we were walking around the outside of the Kremlin at Izmaylovo. We could tell that it was not a high traffic area.

Not only are there tons of brides and grooms that pepper the place, but you'll always see limousines parked outside as well. Some of the limousines look ridiculously large. This particular one was especially unique. I thought it looked a little creepy, like a hearse.