Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Clutter

We made it through Christmas intact. It was a quiet affair, but the kids seemed to enjoy it. 

Christmas Eve was new jammies, watching Santa on NORAD and putting out Santa and the reindeers' snack. Then the Weans went off to bed after hearing The Night Before Christmas, but I had to lie between them and sing every Christmas carol I could think of to get them to calm down. 

Mouse was mesmerised by the Santa Tracker on NORAD's site.
The kids couldn't resist sampling the Santa snacks, but seemed to prefer the carrots to the cookies. I somehow messed up my Great Aunt's sugar cookie recipe for the first time and they came out totally wrong. Sorry, E, they've been brilliant every other time I've made them.

The next morning Mouse was the first up, but I remembered to lock the stair gate so he couldn't get at anything. There were definite signs of a midnight visit. 

He waited patiently, but luckily didn't have to wait long. We hooked up with my mum on Skype, so she could watch the pressie carnage. The Weans seemed to like all their gifts, except Mouse wasn't impressed by the Horrible History type books I bought on William Wallace and Robert the Bruce, bit too old for him, I think. 

Bumpshie enjoyed the chocolate panettone we had for first breakfast. That's her smiling into the flash, not grimacing, honest. 

The boys weren't interested in food really, just wanted to play with their toys. Angry Birds, a computer games, is a big hit with Mouse and his friends, so he got lots of Angry Bird toys. 

Bumptious loves her baby buggy. 

And the Chief was kept out of any trouble by having to build several Lego Star Wars' toys that have all been dismantled since. Luckily Foo's zoo was a much easier build. 

So Christmas was a success here, though I'd have much preferred to be somewhere with friends and family. We miss you all and hope you had a lovely holiday. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays from the Clan in Finland

Christmas 2011

If any of you out there were waiting for a Christmas card from us, sorry. It ain't happening this year unless you have no access to computers or are really pants at using them. I am just not in the Christmas spirit this year, so even the little things have been a struggle, so all my energy went into making the holidays nice for the Weans, despite their mother being a Scrooge. 
Here's my yearly update though. 2011 is almost behind us and it was an eventful, but not an event-filled year. 

We are more settled in our Finnish life. We know how to do most things now, but occasionally still get thrown the odd curve ball when faced with a new challenge. Strange how it's the simple things that usually confuse us. 

The language is still pretty difficult, but I'm starting to understand more and more, but I can't really speak it as I just don't have enough verbs or understanding of the grammar. 

We started the year with my Mum staying in a flat nearby. It was wonderful to have her here, to have someone to talk to, to lend a hands with the Weans and just to share some of this madness with. As she was here 3 months, she got to bond more with the boys and get to know our little Bumpshie who now can talk to her over the computer, but it's not the same. 

She and my Aunt went with us to Lapland to visit Santa and to Talinn, Estonia and Porvoo. Let's try a few links for fun - here and Santa and Talinn. It was great fun and it saddens me to say that's all we've really seen of Finland. Should pick the brains of some of my local friends to get other suggestions, but as the cold dark of winter is upon us I can't see us doing much just now. 

Mouse moved to his current English nursery in February and was a much happier soul, being able to understand what was going on around him. I regret that he won't learn Finnish as easily now, but in the balance it was the best move for him. 

He's made lots of friends and grown up a lot. He's learning to read and write and loves to draw. He's already much better than I am. He's has decided recently he wants to be an inventor and I'm sure he'd be brilliant. This week he wanted to make exploding snowballs, I probably should worry a bit. 

Foo started his Finnish playgroup in September and is picking up Finnish words now. He knows his colour and some animals and can pick the words he knows out of a babble of Finnish which is better than I can do some times. 

We're still waiting for some news on his physical issues, hopefully the Occupational Therapist we're seeing can shed some light in the new year. But even being aware he has problems has made such a difference as we can focus on helping him, he's getting better on the potty and learning how to dress and undress himself. He's gaining awareness of others and how they feel and of his own emotions. I'm hoping he just needs time to catch up.

Baby Bumptious isn't a baby any more. In the last year, she's gone from barely crawling to conquering every climbable object in the house, from babbling to singing and having very coherent but not perfectly pronounced conversations. She is scarily independent and strong-willed, can stand up to her brothers and usually leads Finn around in their joint games. 

She won't be told she's not big enough to do things, if the boys can do it, so can she. She does not accept non-compliance of her will and finds cute ways of getting what she wants: she demands and steals my breakfast by sitting on my lap, right in my face and saying 'More, bite, pees'. 

She is cute and knows it, she loves to dress up in random clothes, the boys' pants on her head and their oversized snow boots is a common outfit. She loves to draw and takes it very seriously, demanding 'papi' and not just any crayons or coloured pencils, but the markers Mouse uses. Luckily, they are super-washable as she is totally cheeky and occasionally takes great glee in doing things she knows she's not supposed to, like dumping her milk into her dinner or opening the oven drawer.

We are currently having a wet winter, which is a big change from last year. We had snow from November until April, it fell regularly every couple of days and never melted in between, so we must have had meters of the stuff compacted down. 

But unlike Scotland, Finland does proper seasons, so we got a lovely spring and a hot summer and a gorgeously coloured fall. Now we're into a wet winter, no snow has stayed longer than one day so far. 

We went back to Scotland in May for a catch-up visit. It was a relief to leave the last dregs of winter and have a proper Scottish spring, wet as always. We didn't do anything exciting except visit favourite places and people and stock up on things like clothes for summer, giant tea cups and a few birthday presents for the littles. But it was a wonderful renew the batteries kind of visit. 

We had a lovely birthday BBQ with friends for our June birthdays and Mouse had a few friends over for his birthday in October. My babies are now 5, 3 and 1. Foo is now the same age as Mouse was when we arrived here in Finland. Can't believe he's been here half of his, admittedly short, life. 

One year in Finland has turned into almost 2 and we don't know what's going to happen next. We think we're going home, but don't bet on it, stranger things have happened. The Chief is applying for jobs here and back home. I've given up trying to figure out which I'd prefer more, both have their positives and negatives, I just would like to know soon, so I can get sorted. 

We have this house until April, so one way or the other we will be moving by then. So there's a big question mark over 2012, so watch this space to see what happens next.

All the Weans and the Chief and myself wish you all the best for the holiday season and for the upcoming year. 

Hyvää joulua ja onnellista uutta vuotta

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Our Days - December

First snow fall - it's all melted two days later.

Getting ready for Christmas

 Silly games

It was Father's Day - Isanpaaiva recently. Mouse is getting quite good at writing. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Getting in the Spirit

Survived another weekend without snow  We've been having a Scottish sort of winter the past week or so, but now the wind is bearing down upon us hard and frosty, so I can't imagine we'll get away with it much longer. 

Not much has been going on. We had a quiet weekend. Saturday went to the local school for their Christmas market and bought a few plates of cookies and tree ornaments to support their cause. Sunday we had a jammie day, well, I did, the rest of them got dressed. The kids played with Duplo (a younger version of Lego) all morning, the house was scattered with it. They were mostly playing Angry Birds - a very popular computer game - and it involved pretending Duplo blocks were either the birds, the pigs or the eggs and blowing things up. Why are boys so violent? The rest of the day seemed to include said game and lots of drawing, usually more birds and pigs. Guess Mouse was serious when he put several Angry Bird toys on his Christmas list. 

Thursday Foo starts his Occupational Therapy. I have no idea what it's going to involve or how I'll be involved (at the physio's we just sat outside the room the whole time and were given a report at the end) but I'm hoping we'll get some ideas for dealing with his ability to learn how to do simple physical tasks like getting dressed and, most importantly, I want help with his walking. His balance is amazingly poor and he walks on his toes with his knees and ankles kind of buckled in which makes his balance even worse. I think if we could help him learn how to walk properly it would help him build better balance then he would be able to learn how to do other full body activities like sit on the potty without falling over. 

Suggestions for improving his ability to focus would be appreciated as well. Foo has finally gotten into the arts and crafts at nursery and both days usually has something he's made, so that's a big step for him. I still don't think he spends much time doing it, but at least they can get him to sit for a bit and do something. Today he brought home a paper gingerbread man. He had as many smeared paint buttons on his shirt as the gingerbread man did. 

He's learning lots of Finnish words. He has a Hungarian teacher who doesn't speak fluent Finnish, so she spends a lot of time teaching him basic words for the toys he likes, flipping between English and Finnish. So he knows airplane, monkey, teddy bear and the colours red, green, yellow and sometimes white. He also can pick these words out of a babble of Finnish as one day last week one of the Leikkipuisto staff was telling the Finnish mums something and his ears perked up at 'Nalle-kerho - Teddy Bear Playgroup' and he shouted to me 'that's my playgroup' when I barely understood more than that. It just amazes me how flexible kids are with language. 

Even Bumpy can say 'Moi moi' which means hello and goodbye. And if I give her basic commands in Finnish like 'wait' or 'sit' she knows what I'm saying. If I know how to say something in Finnish, I tend to say both the Finnish and English versions, so that Foo will understand it at playgroup and Mouse when his Finnish friends say it. Her vocabulary is improving daily. She loves to draw and her focus is much better than either of the boys at this age. Though she's amazingly stubborn and the coloured pencils are no longer good enough for her, she will scream and scream until she's given the same markers that Mouse uses. Luckily they're mega-washable as she does try her luck on the tablecloth or her face sometimes. 

Mouse is still talking and talking, even into the small hours of the night. Think we might have to review his bedtime as he's keeping Bumpshie awake with his whispering. He loves explaining things at the moment. He can't just tell you what he did at school he has to do a step by step explanation of how to do it. And you have to comment on every step or he repeats it over and over, just in case you drifted off. A bit annoying, but he's thorough. He's getting ready for his Christmas show. He's playing a squirrel with several other kids as he's terribly shy in front of crowds, but from the sounds of it he has everyone else's lines memorised. So he does take after my side a little. I remember being a very bossy angel in a Christmas play, telling the shepherds where they should be standing. 

Christmas is a big subject in the house. It's going to be a long month of waiting for the boys. Mouse wants our tree now, but they don't start selling them for a few weeks yet. I finally got Foo to understand who Father Christmas was and what he does, but then he kept insisting he wanted to go see him again and that he was coming today. We spent ages looking over our photos of our Lapland trip last winter. Poor soul. 

I've got a few Christmas projects for the boys, so I guess I'll need to prepare myself and get them out soon. Guess the Bah Humbug gene doesn't start early, I'll have to ease them into it. Maybe I will thaw out the ready-made peppercookie dough I found so Foo and Bump can play with the cookie cutters tomorrow. 

Sigh, I will get into the spirit. At least I've started buying my presents. Amazon and Etsy are my best friends this season. Best of all, Amazon decided it would ship my stuff to me, once I figured out their secret, for free, hurrah! So I managed to buy 7 gifts for the price it would have cost to buy one of them here in Finland. 

When is Father Christmas coming, asks Baby Bumptious? I can see him, shouts Foo. 

The countdown begins. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

After All

After a weekend of Finnish lessons my brain is frazzled.

After actually using some of what I learned at a meeting today, I'm chuffed, if a bit hyper-critical because I know I made mistakes, lots of mistakes. 

After hearing that we will probably be going back to Scotland in the spring unless something unforeseen happens with Isä's work, I'm confused and torn.

After trying to figure out what to do about the kids' schooling in Scotland I'm scunnered.

After yet another night of broken sleep I'm exhausted.

After a day of standing outside for too long and the temp creeping too close to 0C for my liking I'm cold.

After thinking I might have another four months of this weather and maybe worse I'm depressed.

After I think about the good things in my life as crazy, hectic, unpredictable, exhausting, screamy, grumpy, chaotic and unperfect they may be, 

I realise I am extremely grateful for every one of them.

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