The upcoming FS blog round-up is all about what’s good at the post where you currently serve. And I am happy to write this one, as there are so many things I love about Moscow that I had them listed out as separate blog entries on the “pending” list, but now I get to cram them into one lengthy, photo-full post for you, and as a reward I get to check off several topics from that pending file.
Naturally, there are plenty of things about Moscow that I don’t have pics of, because, well, it IS Moscow and though relations have improved dramatically with Russia in the last 30 years, I am selective in what I put out to you all.
We’ve only been in Moscow for 5 months, and so we’ve only seen a short spell of autumn, followed by winter. I am sure I will need to add to this topic considerably once I have experienced a summer.
As far as living on compound goes, there is plenty to like. Travis walks about 1.5 minutes to get to work everyday. Which means he gets to come home for his coffee, and lunch. At lunch time we all sit down and discuss our days, and usually get in some time to practice our Bible memory verses or the kids show off what they’ve been working on.
There is a full gym, again a 1 minute walk from our front door. The commissary is small, but well-stocked (usually!) and it’s a whopping 2 minute walk. We can see the playground from the girls’ bedroom, as well as the buses letting out, which means the kids can arrange playdates from their window at the end of the day. The large “green,” which is a nice big grassy area has bbq stations and apple trees, and there are several dog runs.
Everything on compound is kept in great shape, which I really appreciate on snow-slushy days. There are trash cans, and toilets, and phones for the kids to use to call home if they want to stay out a while longer.
There is a toddler room, which is SO AMAZING!!!! (Oh, uh, did I tell you that I designed it?) I am nearly finished getting it set up with the help of some truly amazing and talented individuals.
The kids get to take ballet with Russian professional ballet dancers. And yes, that is as good as it sounds. The fact that classes take place on compound and are affordable is some sweet icing for this cakey life we get to live.
We are located close to 2 metro lines and that makes getting around town as easy as it could be.
And now for some pictures…
I love that we have a nice communal backyard for the kids to play in, which often results in spontaneous neighborly fun.
|This is how it looks in September. Wow, I miss seeing grass!|
|This is it in winter.|
There are stunningly beautiful parks and estates all around Moscow, very many of which are located within an easy stroll of a Metro stop.
St. Basil’s Cathedral at Red Square. I don’t need to explain that one, do I?
Eating out here is expensive and frankly a lot of trouble when you’ve got 3 kids. This has resulted in me making a LOT more meals at home. We roast 2 chickens nearly every week, and make homemade pizzas about every other week. I love the food we make here much better than almost anything we could eat out, and even when it is an expensive meal, it’s only $20, compared to a cheap meal out which is at least $50.
The Moscow Metro. It is fast, inexpensive and you never have to wait more than 2 minutes for a train. Sure, it’s crowded and smelly at times, but we regard that as good practice in keeping our composure in difficult circumstances. Every station is different and the artwork and style of each is breath-taking. Seriously, I could write a book about the stations. I love them.
|Artwork inside a metro car.|
Everywhere you walk around Moscow you are sure to find ornate, dignified Orthodox churches peeking around the corner at you, beckoning you to come closer.
And then there are the Stalin skyscrapers. They too dot the city’s landscape, and are so massive it is difficult to imagine that they could be very practical.
The playgrounds! We LOVE the Russian playgrounds. Each is different, many have amusements that you won’t find in many safety-conscious American cities and they are usually delightful. These too, are found easily, generally at congregations of apartment buildings and within larger parks. I do wish they had toilets, though. Seriously, someone could make a ton of money by just making some nice toilets that you have to pay for. I would be SO WILLING to pay for toilets. Oh, sorry, I almost forgot this post is all about what’s good in Moscow…. carrying on!
|At the zoo playground. Is that a cool rocking gizmo or what?|
|Our favorite nearby park|
Getting to go to the ballet, or music performances, or opera. Moscow is a city with more than enough to keep your social calendar full of diverse entertainment.
|Sadie and I about to go to the ballet for her birthday.|
The sculptures and statues and monuments, oh, my! Some are grotesque, some ornate, some earthy and realistic.
|On the Old Arbat|
|In Sokolniki park|
There is a wide variety of architecture. Wooden houses, tall boring buildings, Stalin-gothic, baroque, and Soviet all abound. The interesting thing is how often they exist within a single street.
Interesting wildlife wonders.
|When was the last time you saw a squirrel with pointy ears?|
Cold, dreary, dark winter days gave us a chance to make lots of crafts, play plenty of board games and buckle down to school work. The kids learned how to finger knit, I learned to knit; Sadie has been doing great at hand embroidery work and we’ve all been learning to draw.
|Building the perfect marble run.|
|An impressive collection…|
|Of snowflakes to adorn our windows!|
|Our handmade-out-of-boxes-and-paper Calico Critter house. Do your kids also have a seemingly endless affection for anything that is so tiny you could probably swallow it whole without realizing you just ate $20 worth of plastic?|
|Making crayon crafts. This was a step in making some stained-glass hearts for Valentine’s Day.|
Ice Skating!!! Indoor, or outdoor! There is even a small practice rink on the green on compound, which means I can practice away from snickering Russians. (I’m sure they aren’t really snickering, but darn if I don’t feel conspicuous trying to ice skate in front of them!)
|Thomas at the local mall ice rink- this is the smaller of the rinks.|
|Children at Sokolniki park, skating in the fresh air. We hope to skate there before it’s all melted.|
Sledding! There is a sledding hill on compound, and at nearly every park and playground around here. That is some serious fun!
|“Can you give me a shove?”|
The joy of playing in snow! We never knew what we were missing. Snow angels and snowmen, and igloos, and tunnels, and snowball fights! The feeling of flakes fluttering on eyelashes and cheeks… the glitter of crunchy snow falling when it’s coldest… the satisfaction of seeing your footsteps and those of the little people following closely behind…
Making friends at the playground. You can’t tell from this picture, but Sadie was talking to the Russian boy, practicing her new conversation skills she’s been learning from their tutor, Victoria.
|“Kak tibya zavut?”|
Seeing something familiar in the midst of an unfamiliar city…
|Really, why do people hang their sneakers from the wires? And what do they wear home?|
Getting to see exhibits like Moroz City. Honestly, it was overpriced and not as big as I was expecting, but we got some cool pics, no?
|Moroz City means “frost city” I think. Basically lots of pretty ice sculptures in the form of city structures, like jail, hotel, bar, museum and maze. We had fun letting the kids explore.|
|My three jailbirds|
|Oh, good. I was starting to get a little cold.|
|I see you…|
|Whoa! It’s the train to the north pole! (aren’t they getting good at posing?!)|
This past weekend we took a trip to Sergiyev Posad, on e of the 7 Ring Cities circling Moscow. The Monastery was peaceful, tranquil and lovely in every way.
Finding dagger-like icicles is a fun I Spy game we like to play.
We also did a Troika ride on the weekend. We rode on a sleigh pulled by a horse through the forest. It was quiet except for the birds chirping and singing, the jingle of the horse’s bells and the hush of the sleigh rails through the thick snow.
|Sadie playing in the forest.|
|Helen LOVES the “We’re going on a bear hunt” book. Here are Thomas and Sadie posing in the bear cave for Helen. She didn’t want to go in because it was stinky.|
|A genuine, joy-filled smile from a babushka who made us feel happy and comfortable. Helen shared laughs and smiles with her…|
|Burning an effigy of the Russian equivalent of Old Man Winter. In Russia, it is a babushka who is burned at the stake. Only a little disturbing.
|The kind of day you can only dream about… and then, it’s real.|