Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Foo's Life and Lemons

I promised an update on Foo and here it is, though it feels as muddled and uncertain as everything else these days. 

We've had the report back from the Occupational Therapist's assessment and in a nutshell he's struggling with sensory processing - taking in and acting on information from his senses, especially his sense of touch and movement. We're not sure if he's getting too much information or not enough, though I lean towards the later, but it's affecting his balance, spacial awareness and movement through his vestibular sense (inner ear) and also his ability to deal with everyday situations like the cold here in Finland, getting dressed, coping with new situations. 

He's becoming more and more frustrated with things as he wants to be able to do things on his own, but doesn't have the physical ability or sometimes the understanding. He has trouble with changes in routines and things not going the way he wants. He will refuse to do something he knows he has problems with like climbing, doing arts and crafts or playing with a toy that has small parts. He can't process sequences so if doing an activity has more than one step he gets confused and can't understand or remember what comes next. Walking across the room to pick up an object becomes a drama when you have to explain to him where it is - 'on the couch next to the wall' can send him into a panic - 'what's a wall?'

He's become too much for his playgroup as they say he needs almost constant one-on-one attention as he's unpredictable and restless. He's not violent, but gets easily frustrated so if someone goes to take one of his favourite toys he'll freak out and push them. He also doesn't understand group dynamics or how to approach other children, so tends to knock down their toys or draw on their pictures in an attempt to get their attention. 

He is the sweetest boy in the world at times, but he's really struggling at the moment. He's becoming aware of his limits, has said to me recently 'I can't walk very well' when we were negotiating snowy paths and 'I don't like to go high' when we were talking about the men on the roof cleaning off snow. I'm dreading when he starts to notice that Bumpshie is already more accomplished in some physical things than he. 

So the OT's opinion was he needs Occupational Therapy sessions, but she can't fit him into her schedule until autumn, so suggested we go and look for someone else. Oh, joy. Need to wait for the local health board to approve his therapy so they'll pay for it, then we need to find someone who speaks English well, which should be fun.  And we need a psychological review which I'm trying to arrange. 

Today we had a meeting with his nursery staff and a specialist kindergarten teacher to look into new nurseries and strategies to deal with him. We may end up keeping him in the Finnish system (if we stay here) just because we'll get better support. While I'd love to send him to Mouse's nursery, they may be reluctant to take him because they'll may have to hire someone who specialist background who also speaks English. That will be something we'll have to bring up at Mousie's upcoming parent/teacher meeting. 

We've applied to Mouse's nursery and to the European school that's connected with the Chief's employer for both boys and now have the wheels in motion to find a Finnish nursery place. I've started looking into the Scottish possibilities, but it's hard to do without being present to meet with staff and visit schools. Trying to find the best for Foo without being totally certain of what that is. If the Chief gets the permanent job here, the boys will have an automatic place at the European School, but I'm unsure if he'll get the support he needs. He may end up speaking Finnish before the rest of us. 

So that's where we stand. I feel quite frustrated at our lack of tangible answers, not so much the lack of a diagnosis, but just what we're going to do next. But I try to remind myself that it has only been 7 months since we first saw the neuvola nurse with our concerns about his balance and speech. So far we've seen an ENT specialist, a speech therapist, a physiotherapist, an occupational therapist and a specialist teacher. In the UK we'd probably still be waiting to see the paediatrician or the first specialist. We are probably in one of the best countries for dealing with an health care/ physical needs issue and I am very grateful for that. 

How's that for lemonade?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Sun in my Eyes

Yesterday when I picked up Mouse from nursery at 4pm there was an odd sensation in the air. Everything seemed to have lifted up just that little bit higher to give me room to breathe. And then I realised, it was bright out. The sky was still white as it has been for a few weeks from the constant fall of snow, but there was a tiny perceptible difference. The background hum wasn't darkness, it was daylight.

This morning at 8.30am while sorting out breakfasts and dishes, I glanced outside and once again there was that unfamiliar light feeling. The sun was rising, there was even a hint of blue sky. 

The sun has poured over us all day, accompanied by an icy blast just to remind us that winter ain't over yet. But having to squint into the sun as well as the wind, made a big difference to my daily slog through the snow. 

A sliver of moon and a single star followed us home this evening. I didn't even feel the need to make a wish. 

I'm stealing this quote from my good friend Ms Finch. I needed this reminder. 

Once in the midst of a seemingly endless winter, 

I discovered within myself an invincible spring.

Albert Camus.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Winter Blues Rant

Sorry, I haven't written much. As you might have guessed I have the winter blues. Just too much uncertainty and stress going on in the Clan household. Problems with the house in Scotland, the Chief's interviews and up and down news from his employer re his current postion, Foo's unpredictable moods, problems at nursery and visits to the Occupational Therapist and the mountain of snow that has descended since the new year have just piled up on me. I'm just not coping with it well. 

Ok, first of all, indulge me in a wee rant about the snow. Have I mentioned how much I hate it? I knew I did last year, I knew I would this year. I cringed, waiting for it all autumn and early winter, I smiled as the rain drizzled and drenched us all the way through December, but I knew it wouldn't last. 

And now it's here I remember why I hate it so much. Even though Finland is used to lots of snow and have developed excellent ways for dealing with it and surviving it, it is still impossible to get two or even three children through this much snow with a smile on your face. I've tried the buggy, I've tried the sledge, I've tried to get Foo to walk. There is no easy way. 

It's relatively warm, between 0 and -5C, so the snow on the pavements has a sand-like quality to it, not sloshy, but not powdery. It clings to the buggy wheels, it pulls them down into it. And if Foo is tired or awkward and on the buggy board it's like pulling a Foo-shaped anchor behind the buggy that I'm trying to push up hill and dale.

I've tried the sledge, in theory, it should be easier. But Bumpshie didn't like it, she cried all the way to pick up Mouse from nursery. And I had to wrangle 2 children, a sledge and a bag on the bus. Foo can't really get on the bus himself. Then I had to do the whole thing back home with 3 kids, though Mouse helped a lot with the sledge and watching Bump while I got Foo on. 

I tried it again today just going to the Leikkipuisto to get Foo and she enjoyed it more on her own: laying on her sheepskin on her tummy, saying 'Whee' whenever we went over bumps. But on the way back with Foo, she just lay on him like a lump and he doesn't have the strength to hold her up, so he ends up pushed over backwards as well. I still end up aching from hauling 20kg up our big hill. And for some reason we now live on the only road in Herttoniemi that doesn't get ploughed. 

So I've been hiding a bit from the world since the snow came. Bad me. I know I should be out there playing in it, skiiing, skating, sledging, but I hate it. Putting enough layers on the Weans to keep them warm, but then we're all melting by the time we get out and then no one wants to go out and do anything anyway. 

Enough belly-aching. Anyway here's some photos of the snow. 


Mouse has got the right idea. It's time to take out the funny Finnish shovel and start digging myself out of this slump, but I'm not there yet.

So news on whether we're staying or go in Finland. No news. The Chief had an interview for a job in Edinburgh, didn't get it. He's had an interview for a permanent job with the company he's currently working for, but we won't know if he's made the first cut until some time in February. There's rumblings that they might extend his project and he could apply for another contract, but the company is treacle-slow wading through EU regulations and too many managers, so I'm not holding my breath and, to be honest, I'm not sure if I can handle another year of being 'temporary', uncertain whether we're staying, how much effort we should put into staying here. Our first contract was for 11 months, it'll be 23 by the time this extension is over. If we had known we were going to be here this long we'd maybe have done some things differently, but that horse has bolted, so no point in thinking about it. 

We have our house in Scotland, our lease running up here shortly, 2 children in need of education and no idea of what to do about any of them. I'm applying to several schools here, will be contacting ones in Scotland shortly, just trying to cover our bases. I've put the word out that we may be in the market for a new flat here. Meanwhile, my head is slowly imploding. I'm sure it'll all come good in the end, but I'm not good at A) waiting and B) leaving things that are important to me, up to others. 

I'll keep you informed when I can. 

I've got a heap of news about Foo as well, but am tired from this batch of ranting, so I'll come back to that. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Foo's Morning at Playgroup

Thought I'd post these photos as I've been printing some for Foo to help him deal with the many different routines he has to face every day. This is his playgroup routine.  I didn't take most of these photos, so I apologise for the quality. 

They always start outside for an hour, unless it's raining or below -15C. 

Then they come in, get their outside stuff off and their slippers on. He won't put his slippers on for me and getting him to undress himself is an ordeal. Wish I knew their secret. 

Foo loves to play on his own with the plastic animals. He has certain faves, like the lions and dinosaurs, usually depending on what movies he's into at the moment. He's learned the Finnish names for the ones he plays with regularly. 

He's not so much into art, hence us having no picture of him doing any. But the teacher tries to lure him with his love of animals. 

Then it's snack time. 

Then free time again. 

Pretty packed for just three hours. Though he's still learning the finer social graces of playing with others and doing what the bosses (teachers) want him to do, Foo loves his time at playgroup. 

And so do Aiti and Bumptious. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

January Photo Catch-up

Stress and uncertainty have meant I haven't been interested in posting much, but life goes on. 

There's getting over the excesses of Christmas.

New toys to play with.

Finnish cold weather fun. 
Foo learning to sledge at his nursery. That hill ain't small and they don't test run them on the little ones. He handled it pretty well. 

Trying out the latest styles.

Anyway, wishing you all the best for the new year. Hope it holds something good for all of you. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

In Progress

Café Dreams

Rainy winter hours
to page through,
forgetting the fogged-out world.

Plum tart book corner,
overstuffed cushions oozing.
Crinkle of paper over jazz
and crumbs scooped up by sparrows
that whisper on overleafs and gilt spines.

Glances across tables
like poppy seeds cracking on the tongue
lemon sizzle drizzle
beneath the mysteries and thrillers.

Ignore the intrusive thought,
a pale gold moth vibrating against the window.

Mountains within elbow reach of my little nook,
unmoored in oceans of words
and elaborate inner spaces
now lit and humming, tangible.

Hiss of capucines
dark sinuous, melting chocolate souls
in bone china cups.

Sugar dusted wings open
in an exhalation of truth,        

I stand rooted outside the froth-steamed windows,
anchored by toddlers’ routines
and the lack of sleep for dreams.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Welcome 2012

You couldn't be simple, you couldn't be all new and shiny, could you? Nooo, that wouldn't be a challenge or exciting. Thanks a lot.

Just remember, 2012, I'm watching you. You better shape up. 

And stop with the snow, please. 
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