Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Welcome Back

Today was the First Day of School, not just for my kids, but for every school child in Moscow. MoscowMom, one of my blogging buddies here, mentioned the "huge white Russian schoolgirl hairbows" on her blog.

Boy, oh boy, were they out in force today. And for once I had my camera with me.

These are especially ginormous:

Here is a whole flock of hairbows having celebratory milkshakes.

We say "a school of fish," "a mob of kangaroos," "a gaggle of geese." Two of my favorites are "a murder of crows" and "an exaltation of larks." I wonder what the correct measure word is for a group of hairbows?

As usual, I digress.

Another lucky little girl got ice cream after her first day back at school.

This girl skipped the seemingly obligatory white tights and Mary Janes, but her hairbows are still pretty spectacular.

This one stuck with the standard look.

Question: What do little boys wear on the first day of school?

Answer: A necktie.

This one is adorable. I'll bet he had to suffer through endless cheek-pinching and photos this morning.

Back at the French school, my girls had two very different schedules today: Skittles went from 8:30 until noon, and Baboo went from 1:30 until 4:30. This was just for la rentrée; it will not be the norm. But it meant I had a few extra moments to enjoy a coffee with friends. The weather was so nice today, we sat outside at a new coffee place near the school.

Pretty cool, eh?

Skittles enjoyed a meringue.

I have always liked the building across the street.

"So how was the first day?" you may ask.

High fives all around.

Skittles had a very unfortunate situation last year with a combined class of third and fourth graders, plus two teachers who did not get along in any way. One of them was practically debilitated by culture shock and the stress of living in Russia. It was his first overseas gig. All of this made for a very unsatisfactory and stressful experience for us.

This year Skittles got an older, more experienced teacher. In fact, he is one of only two returning staff this year. I think he sometimes skates a little close to phoning-it-in, but in this case, a little mellowness may be just what the doctor ordered. The bottom line is that Skittles is pleased: the vibe in the classroom is 180 degrees different, and that's a good thing.

Even better, she "graduated" to the second floor of the building.

"It makes me feel bigger," she says.

Baboo entered college (sixth grade in the French system) today with a lot of trepidation about this new level, but that was all for naught. Everything was fine.

She was most amused by her "professeur principal" (sort of like a homeroom teacher) who, coincidentally is the English teacher for her class. Mme B. had told the kids to call her "Teacher" instead of the French term, "Maîtresse."

"But I'm thinking of calling her 'Teacher Lady'," Baboo confided.

I think that's funny.

What is not so funny is her schedule this year. Yikes! For one thing, her day never ends at the same time as her sister's. Every day is different. She might finish around noon, 4:30, or even as late as 5:30! Seems like a big leap for her, and a logistical challenge for me as it doesn't make sense to run back and forth between home and school in the afternoons.

Rumor has it that the school is going to offer some sort of after-care that Skittles may be able to utilize (details to come from the PTA). But that makes for a very long day for both of them. And we haven't even added Baboo's fencing or any additional activity Skittles may want to do this year (the PTA will give us that information next week). I am not eager to start cello lessons for Baboo again the way things look. It's just too much.

On a brighter note, since I had my camera with me, I finally got some pictures of details in the Metro stations I frequent. I must point out, however, that these are, by Moscow Metro standards, lesser stations.

And the kids were glad to see our local dog friends were all fine.

From nearest to farthest, we call these three fellows Rex, Spot, and Ting-a-ling.

Note, Elton John will play Moscow October 7. See the billboard?

We stopped for this photo op outside the Ukrainian restaurant.

And I was tickled that I can read this sign on the Italian restaurant downstairs. I will certainly mispronounce the words, but I at least get the gist.

Across the top it says "Italian Lunch, Quick, Tasty 250 rubles." That's about US$8.

The small panel on the left says "Pasta Non-Stop Every Tuesday from 1:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m." (Er . . . so it does eventually stop. I guess they mean unlimited seconds?) The panel on the right says the pastafest will set you back 399 rubles (US$13), but I must confess I cannot tell you what the text below the price means. The middle word is what I say when I want to ask "How much?" I think.

Keep in mind, that eating in this outdoor portion of the restaurant means dining alongside the Garden Ring. That's like eating on the berm of the Interstate to me.

Bon appetit!


hka said...

Eat as much as you like. That's what it says.
And sorry about last year, I didn't realize it was so stressful for you at school.

Sa said...

eeh! i love the hairbows and the white tights, beyond adorable. is there some sort of assembly the first day of school (is that why the children in the pics are accompanied by parents?)
Good Luck this year!

The Expatresse said...

I forgot to add that as a nervous Baboo went off to her classes, her younger sister said to her, "Bon chance, Baboo. Bon chance."

It was like something out of a WWII movie.

hka: Last year was a challenge for Skittles, that's for sure. We didn't realize how much until halfway through. I went to meet the Problem Teacher loaded for bear, but he was so sad and pathetic . . . I left wanting to hug him because he's had such a tough year.

Sa: I took those photos about noon. I got the feeling school lasted only a half day today for the Russians, too, and the parents had proudly collected their young scholars.

Tina in CT said...

White hairbows and tights were out in full force in Katya and Natalia's school but Natalia had on hot pink footless tights (guess they are called leggings?) and no white, puffy hairbows. My daughter told me the white hairbows are a custom from former Soviet days. I really think they are cute.

Nice to hear that your girls had a good first day of school.

valentina said...

HI, well I think those hairbows make the girls look like stuffed animals... Or Shirley Temple... anyhow unattractive... Madonna at least had the good sense not to wear anything as un peu de trop as that and she was pretty over the top... but then maybe if she could have gotten her hands on those biws Desperately SEeking Susan would have been even more absurd...

I AM SO GLAD that Skittles and Baboo have had good fortune with the teacher selection although not with the schedule, alas. But if it has to be one or the other then they have lucked out.

I am still in Portland and so full of squash stuffed pasta with Marsala sauce that I can barely keep from rolling onto the floor from this desk chair. So I will sign off and say Bon Nuit and Bon Chance all around. I miss you and loved this latest blog entry. It was both amusing AND informative. BTW, the Portland museum of art has a kick ass collectoin albeit on the small side. No Hermitage here...xoAV aka v

mosaikmum said...

Love all the photos and all the local info...thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...


I believe the part of the sign you had trouble understanding says "Eat as much as you can", or "Eat as much as your are able to".

Your reading skills are improving if you can read the English words disguised in Cyrillic characters on that sign. Good job--keep up the good work. Soon you'll be speaking Russian with the best of us :-)

And yes, сколько by itself does mean "how much", as in Сколько стоит (how much does it cost).

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