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.