Saturday, October 27, 2012

Bright Side of Finnish Life

The nights are fair drawing in, as my in-laws would say, and we're beginning to struggle with the dark mornings and the cold weather. So, as we brace ourselves for the coming winter and mild depression that falls upon this family I'm going to try and cultivate a positive mood.

I'll start with a list of good things about living in Finland. These are of course my personal views based on our family's experiences, your life and views of Finland may be very different.

The excellent education and health care system. Health care for children is free here and they have no qualms at doing everything in their power to help a child who needs special care, even if he isn't Finnish and there's no certainty that he'll spend a long time in Finland. We had a physiotherapy session for Foo this last week. One week after we requested it. No ands, ifs or eternal waiting lists. He needed it, they got it for him. Can't ask for much more. We're currently looking for a speech therapist that deals with English, that may be a bit of a longer wait.

The family/child focussed life. Reading yet another breastfeeding in public debate on an opinions forum I frequent, I am so happy to be in a country that supports and encourages breastfeeding, has excellent facilities for child care everywhere that includes feeding space, changing areas, child-sized toilets and potties in most public toilets.That fathers get great paternity leave and take their children to play groups and are involved in all aspects of their children's lives. That there are playparks, family houses everywhere around the city and playrooms or areas in most large public places so children can be entertained.

Most of my integration into Finnish culture has been through the children and the Finns I meet at the playparks and school gates. Most of the Finnish I speak is also based around the children and their lives. Unlike any other country I have lived in, they have coloured my total expat experience. 

We got our first bout of snow yesterday, not a lot. I don't hate the snow, really, just the massive amounts we get and the long time it hangs around. It brightens the short winter days. It's fun for the kids to sledge and play in it.

The extreme cold, on the other hand, there is no nice side to that in my book. But it's a good excuse for a roaring fire and hot chocolate and biscuits. 

I'm trying, really, to make the most of our life here. It's a good life, just not what I expected or would have necessarily chosen myself. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Äiti and Foo's Autumn Phone Pictures

My phone is cheap. Instagram won't even work properly on it. It takes reasonable photos, but because it's cheap and mostly made of plastic I don't mind letting the kids take photos with it.  Goodness knows, I drop it more than they do. 

Sometimes their view of the world is breath-taking, the odd angles, the lack of focus or interest in getting the shot right or worrying if people are looking at the camera. Other times it's worrying. Have you ever noticed that bums are always in a child's line of sight? Give them a camera and you soon discover this when you have 80 pictures of your ever-so-larger than life arse. 

I've been letting Foo play with my phone's camera because it require him to multi-task in terms of senses and motor skills. It's amazing how many things we actually have to do to take a picture. Simple tasks that we take for granted, but for him can tie his mind and fingers in knots in seconds. Holding the camera without covering the lens, using a finger or thumb to push the button, holding the camera up high enough to see the picture, but to also have the subject in focus, not moving the camera while pushing the buttons. 

I end up deleting dozens of photos after his session, partially because they're blurry and just bad, but sometimes because they're of other kids or adults that he doesn't have permission to take photos of as he likes to practise when we play in the park while picking up Mouse from nursery. 

But here's a taster of some of his photos and some of mine of him and the other Weans. 

Bump's new friend. And we thought her hair was curly. 

Searching for chestnuts with Mormor

Yes, that's my finger. After explaining over and over that Foo needs to keep his out of the way. sigh

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mouse is Six - Growth Spurt

You may have noticed there seems to be few photos of Mousie Magoo in this blog, at least next to the dozens and dozens of Foo and Bumps. It's not that I don't try to take lots of him, but it's not an easy job. He prefers to be in constant motion and is always talking, so I often get unusable blurred shots or ones with his mouth in odd positions. He also tightens up when I do get him to stop moving as he's not comfortable with the spotlight on him. 

So why he decided to humour me this weekend and actually let me take lots of photos of him in different locations as we went for a walk, I'll never know but I'm grateful. He must be growing up. Last year when I tried this he was moaning at me after the first 5 shots. 

He's a bit of a comedian and loves to pose in hero type stances. He also loves playing at being a soldier, clone or superhero, so I often had to ask him to put down his weapon for a shot. He obliged most of the time, so I didn't force him to stop his games too often to sit still for my camera.  

But sometimes I managed to catch him at just the right moment before he took off on some new adventure. 

So my Mouse is 6. This time six years ago I was tucked up in hospital preparing to introduce him to our family and friends. I was exhausted from the traumatic after-birth issues, but enjoying getting to know my little bundle before the masses arrived. 

In his first year, I see now, I was never good at sharing him with others. I would constantly hover until they handed him back, hating every moment away from him. Now I feel him beginning to leave me for the bigger world of school and friends. And I'm reluctant to let him go. Luckily, he still likes to report back what he's doing - our little Narrator - so I learned this week that he didn't want to take books to school because the ones we had weren't cool like his friends' (must remedy that) and that he didn't finish colouring his fish today in Maths, but had matched all the numbers on his fish. I know it won't be long before he doesn't share these things with him Mum. 

He'll often surprise me with a spontaneous cuddle from time to time and other small signs of affection which I cling to like these moments when he sits long enough for me to capture my amazing boy in stillness. Only then do I get a glimpse of him growing into the person he will someday be, millimeter by millimeter, day by day. 

My beloved son. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Bumper Weekend

A lovely autumn weekend. Busy with glorious weather and mostly happy children. It's been hard to manage all three these days, but this weekend we had it all. 

Saturday was Mouse's birthday party. Like last year he only wanted a few friends to come to the house. I'd like to say it was a quiet affair, but with three 6 year olds, a 4 and a 2 year old and three adults it was anything but quiet. Foo went out with the Chief for a while, so Mouse could have some big boy time with his friends. They ran about, nibbled on snacks, played with some toys. When the Chief and Foo came back I ran all the kids around outside, burning off some sugar before we did a treasure hunt and had some cake. 

Melted chocolate and strawberries

Want a marshmallow?

A treasure hunt clue.

Sharing the treasure.

Angry Birds cake and Pigs cupcakes. Strangely enough some liked the cake and some liked the cupcakes, but they were made with the same cake and frosting. There's no figuring out picky school boys. 

The Chief decided to occupy the little ones by having them help with raking the leaves while the boys played with their toys from the treasure hunt and Mouse's presents. Actually, I'm not sure if he meant for them to help as I'm sure he got less done that way. 

My turn!

Sunday was another lovely day. I started mowing the grass that had gotten way out of control in the past few months of constant rain. But once everyone was dressed and ready we went of to Kallahden and Villa Ullas. No korvapusti today, but their other pastries are just as delicious. I had planned to take some birthday photos of Mouse, but couldn't ask for better scenery and light. I'll post his pictures on his birthday, but for now, here's a bit of our walk. 

The kids are so much fun now that they're all able to do the same kind of things. 

Hope your weekend was as chock-full of sun, laughter and sugar. 
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