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.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

November Stories

My mind was a blank when I opened this to blog. There's always that question of what's happened with the Clan that anyone else would care to read about. When you look at your life from within it doesn't seem that interesting, the day to day monotony of school runs, work, deciding what to make for dinner. I want to blog about holidays and adventures, conquests and discoveries, but they rarely seem to happen. Or do they?

I always tell my students that any story can be compelling if you tell it with passion and you have an interest in it yourself, that the small epiphanies are as captivating as the big ones if you put your love and excitement into them. 

So here's our week, hopefully told with passion.

Halloween is almost a non-event in Finland, but our music class decided to give a small nod to the day and suggested people wear costumes and then told an appropriate story. Not many put their kids in costumes but I managed to dig up something for the little Weans. 

 The Dread Pirate Bumpshie

I have no idea what the story was really about as it was in Finnish, but it had a troll, a witchy looking crone, a cat, a dog, a woodcutter looking fellow, a boy and a cake. It started out a bit like the Little Red Hen and ended up like a game of hide and seek. Foo was captivated at points. He even managed to sing parts of Hämä-hämähäkki (Itsy, Bitsy Spider) which I had spent the past afternoon learning myself and singing over and over again.

He's beginning to understand bit of Finnish. At the Halloween party which was held where his playgroup is he picked up a toy airplane and randomly shouted 'lentokonen' which is almost lentokone the Finnish word for airplane. He has a lovely teacher who's Hungarian and speaks little Finnish, but much more than we do. She's been saying the Finnish word for his favourite things, so I'm sure he'll come out with more and more as the months go on. 

She's also figuring out how to keep his attention long enough to get him to do some arts and crafts type things. He finds it very hard to sit and focus on stuff like that and because his fine motor skills are not great he's not very interested in it. I suggested drawing a picture of something he likes for him to colour over. So we're finally getting a few pictures to bring home.

It's a Triceratops, of course. He's done a pumpkin as well.

And finally we made our first fire in our new home, and smoked the place out. The boys loved it, so we'll have to try again. I think we put the fire too far forward. I'm only used to burning things outside, so this is all new to us. But it will be nice as the weather gets colder. 

The changing of the clocks back has hit us hard in terms of light. When I go pick up Mousie from nursery at 4pm the sun has set. Everyone has started leaving front porch lights on and their curtains open at night, so the streets don't feel so dark and miserable. It's strange coming from societies where everyone pulls their blinds as soon as the sun starts to set to keep people from looking in. The Finns are nosey, so they're not worried about that. Having light streaming out from the houses makes the walks home in the evening much more comforting. Like the Jack O'Lanterns of Halloween to keep the long, terrible darkness at bay.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Not many photo to show as we were mostly there to visit friends and the stomach bugs took some time off our trip, but it was still a good trip. 

Yes, I was happy to be back. Norway was a breath of fresh air after Finland.

Our main reason for being in Bryne, visiting the new baby and to lend a hand. 

A child's playhouse or a troll's?

Notice the Foo's bright red cheeks, the beginning of his turn at the bug.

With all of us almost over the bug we took a walk up to Tinghaug, an ancient site, our last day.  It was my only chance to do my photography project which I wanted to do on the stones and stone walls of Jaeren which always stick in my mind when I think of living there. 

Mouse is not one for hiding his feelings, he did not enjoy the walk up.

But sometimes the little pleasures make the struggle worth it.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Oslo Photos

Unfortunately I can't include photos of my friends' and their kids, but here's some photos of our time in Oslo - city of statues. We love Frogner Park with all it's statues by Gustav Vigeland. 


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