Sunday, September 30, 2012

More from St Petersburg

Some random pictures

Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood

Macaroons with tea. 

Slightly surreal.

Not sure what these were but there were row after row of pictures on some buildings. 

Outside The Hermitage

Thursday, September 27, 2012

All That Glitters . . .

Can you guess where I've been?

Yup, St Petersburg. Never imagined I'd be in Russia with a handful of roubles, even if it was a very brief visit. 

Mormor is over for a visit, so I managed to get a cheap deal on a cruise to St Petersburg. It was just one day in the city and two nights on the boat, but it gave us a good taster for a possible longer visit in the future. The Chief stayed with the Weans while Mormor and I 'museumed' until we literally dropped. A good compromise and everyone returned to normality this morning pretty much unscathed. 

We spent most of our time in The Hermitage which is a museum that includes the Winter Palace and the Small and Large Hermitages where all the Tsars used to hang out. 

I have never seen so much gilt, crystal, marble in my life and it all overwhelmed the 16,000 pieces of art it housed. Absolutely mind-blowing. 

It was impossible to do justice to the rooms, the lighting was poor to protect the artworks, but also the scale was massive. There was no way to capture all the details of the room or the scope of the elaborate ceilings, various chandeliers, wall fixtures, paintings, furniture, tiled or mosaic floors. Impossible. 

Each room was grander and more elaborate than the last. Just when you think they couldn't pack any more gilt, marble or paintings, they found a way to top it off with even more icing and cherries on top, lacing it all with a good slosh of Russian flair. 

I had a trial by fire learning how to use the manual setting on my dSLR camera as they wouldn't let you use the flash, but it was quite fun once I got a bit more comfortable. Over 200 pictures in dimly lit rooms is a good way to learn, I guess. 

I got a bit obsessed with the ceilings.

But sometimes it was the finer details that caught my eye.

Who does this remind you of?

Though we spent about 4 hours there, I'm sure we didn't see more than half of the rooms and couldn't even begin to take in most of the art scattered about everywhere. It's not the kind of place the kids would have been happy in, so I was glad we did it this time, so if we go back to St Petersburg, we can do something different. I'd definitely go back, there's a lot more we didn't even begin to see. 

I have a few more photos of places outside the Hermitage which I'll do later. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Inching Forward

After using deep pressure to calm down one of Foo's tantrums the kids decided playing caterpillar was fun. 

A month into his nursery experience and he is enjoying it more. He has a few friends, he doesn't cry any more when I drop him off. But he's still finding the transitions between activities hard, he can't seem to remember what happens next, so panics I'm not coming to get him, or doesn't believe the teacher that it's time for lunch. So has mega tantrums. 

The teachers also say he's very stubborn. Stubborn, my Foo? If he decides he's doing something, it takes a bit of persistence to convince him otherwise. Welcome to my world. 

He's had a rough week at home, don't know if he's been up in the night again as he has a bit of a rough sounding cough at night, or if he's not feeling well or is tired from nursery, but every transition or request I make at home is met with screaming. He is constantly saying 'I'm not very good at X or Y' when I ask him to do it, even though he knows how to do it. He may still need help, but he knows he only has to ask, but to get to that phase we have to have a meltdown first. 

I'm sure it'll pass, but the 'caterpillar' is one technique I use for mega-tantrums. It uses deep pressure to help him refocus on what his body is doing and to relax. I roll him up in the blanket, head out of course, and then cuddle him on my lap. This day it calmed him down enough to eventually sit and the table and eat something. 

We'll get there, this new routine is a lot to get used to for all of us. 

Foo also had a go at colouring this last week. He hates colouring as he knows it's difficult for him. His grip is poor and he can't focus to colour in the lines or to control the pen. He had a huge strop trying to make me colour in the Angry Birds picture, but I refused. Eventually he spent about 5 minutes, doing quick, rough scribbles in the right colour over the birds and pigs. But then his siblings got a colouring book out and they coloured together. 

It's the most time he's spent colouring in ages. 

And here's just some crazy games, I can't remember what they were playing, but from their costumes I don't think they knew either. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


 Just for fun, I googled the term bumptious and learned it means 'overly confident and self-assertive'. Pure coincidence as her nickname came from the fact that she fell a lot when she was learning to crawl and walk in our first house in Finland, with its crazy stairs. Boy, I hit that nail on the head. It totally matches how I see her right now. Terrible twos, eh. She is the most bumptious of Bumpshies. Good thing she's awfully cute as well. 

Her attitude to life reminds me a lot of a Billy Connolly sketch which had a woman saying: I want this, I want that, I want it done like this and I want it done right now. And pay attention because it's all going to change tomorrow. 

She knows exactly what she wants, how she wants it and just to make sure she's totally in charge she may change her demands at any moment, so heaven forbid you're not giving her your full attention. 

She's got all the tricks worked out. Bedtime is a minefield, she wants certain stuffed toys in bed with her, but often she doesn't want to cuddle them, they are pushed to the bottom of the bed, but if you don't have them in there, you'll hear about it. She wants her blanket on and off and on again. Not on her bear, on her back and around her toes, but not on her face then off again. She asks for a drink, a cuddle, to use the potty. For me to sing 'Soft Kitty', yes, from The Big Bang Theory or 'Doggie Song' (How much is that doggie in the window) but will interrupt me because she wants it sung differently or wants another song instead. She screams and cries for Daddy, then for me. Some nights our trips up and down to deal with Miss Bumptious can take an hour, other nights 5 minutes. 

But she's amazing, she loves cuddles and playing with her brothers whether it be with her dolls or with toy guns. She draws really well for being only 2 and is sharp as the proverbial. She loves to dance and sing. Today she was putting imaginary plasters on Mouse's hurt finger and kissing it better with a total straight face. 

She is all cheek and always knows what she's doing, she'll push every button and limit just to see if you've changed your mind or aren't on your toes. I pick my battles, but some day wish there were less of them. 

Truly Bumptious, but she's my daughter, I expect no less. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Phone Photos

Just downloaded a summer's worth of photos off my phone. Had to delete so many as the quality's not brilliant and Mouse got a hold of my phone at the Children's Festival recently and took about 50 photos of balloons, but there are a few I wanted to share. 

Late flight to Scotland.  

Not impressed with Glasgow's underground system. At least the staff were friendly and helpful.  

What are they playing in there?

Mandatory part of every potty training, the road-side emergency stop. 

One of Mouse's balloon photos. 

Night out with the ladies in Finland. Gorgeous night, gorgeous ladies and good fun. 

Yes, score! All looking at the camera and all almost smiling. 

Today at the park. 

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