Thursday, December 25, 2014

Holly Jolly Christmas 2014

Our Christmases are always pretty quiet. No other family in the country, friends away or busy with their own families, nothing open after lunchtime Christmas Eve until the 27th. I find it quite difficult this time of year to be an ex-pat. 

In the long run-up I try to make cookies, teacher presents, Christmas crafts with the kids to use up some of their energy and excitement. Here's some of our fun.

Traditional 'Nailed It' gingerbread house. 

Christmas Eve is when the Finns celebrate Christmas and it is a bigger deal in our house as well. We start with a sauna and shower, though Pudding really didn't like it this year and screamed as soon as we tried to take her in. Then we put on clean jammies and sit down to a family movie feast. This year we watched The Wizard of Oz and the kids quite enjoyed it, but I loved it. I remember watching it with my Mum as a child and it was so much fun to share it with my kids. We tried to watch The Sound of Music tonight, didn't work as well. We skipped to the songs, but even then they just weren't interested. 

Christmas morning was the usual madness. Skyping with Mormor while the kids opened presents in a mad rush. Every year I try to get them to do it one at a time, but it never works. I wasn't very organised with presents this year and was let down by a new supplier, so we didn't have a lot of the things I ordered. And I made a few mistakes as well. I hate buying Christmas presents, it's so hard to get it right for so many people. 
Just getting started. As usual I didn't get many photos taken during the rippage, trying to watch everyone open, talk to my mum, chase after scissors, etc for opening things. 
But then there's the playing, that lasts all day.

There's always collateral damage. 

And it's always the small silly gifts that are the best. Like a whoopee cushion. 
Charity shop dress up clothes.
The kids seemed happy so that's the most important thing. We chilled, we ate too much food. 

We've been in Finland for 5 Christmases now. It's not where we would choose to be, but we try to make the most of what we've got. Each other. Enjoy your holidays, where ever you are and however you wish. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Happy Holidays 2014

As per my holiday tradition I have avoided sending cards this year to all but a select few, mainly those who do not have internet access. Instead I chose to send a Clan Year in Review via multiple electronic media. I also have donated the money I would spend on cards and postage to a charity of my choice.

2014 has been a year of ups and downs, more than usual it seems. It was a first full year in our new home, our first full year with Pudding. It was a year we dreamed of Scottish Independence, only to realise it will remain a dream for a while longer. We have lost a good friend and worried about the health of others. And we have watched the Weans blossoming and mastering way too many skills, keeping us on our toes and sometimes at the end of our tethers. 

Pudding has learned to roll, eat, crawl and walk. She's a wee shining light with the cheeky streak and a stubborn streak, a true Clanswoman. She babbles constantly, but currently everything seems to be a variation of Ba, Neh and Da, except 'kolikot' which she has been saying over and over lately. It means 'coins' in Finnish and was one of the first words I picked up (and never used again), but I don't think she knows that. She loves songs and demands song from 'In the Night Garden' ALL DAY LONG, to the point where I must sound like a meany in public when I say 'No, no songs'. She's getting some mean dance moves as well. 

She loves playing with Bumpshie and Foo, they crawl around and play doggie and she gets to walk them. You ask her what a doggie says and she pants. She gives everyone kisses before bed and entertains the staff at the nursery as she runs away from me every 2 seconds while I'm trying to wrangle the older two. 

Bumpshie has found a nursery that works for her. While her last nursery said she was fine after I left, she still cried every day last year. This autumn term at her new nursery she had a few teary days, but since they she has been keen to go. They sing songs constantly it seems and she's learning Finnish through them, but still pretty much refuses to speak it. She sang, smiled and did the actions for the songs at her Christmas show. I was so proud as she wouldn't even go up with her class for the Spring show at her last nursery.

Foo has had a brilliant year. Night boots and a new physio have meant his walking has improved so much which has helped his balance. We've had great support through his various therapists and doctors. He has started at the kindergarten year (Esikoulu) at the kids' new nursery and though I had my worries he has totally rocked the transition. He has a lovely guy who assists him and the other staff have worked really hard to make sure he is happy and I understand what's going on. We'll have our hands full in the New Year figuring out what our next steps will be, but I'll save that for another post.

Mouse is 8 years old now and growing so fast. He loves to read and you often have to pry the book out of his hands. He started playing guitar and is doing amazingly well, already surpassing my ability to read music and keep up with him. Though getting him to practice is always a bit of a struggle. He is so helpful with the kids and I know I can trust him with so many things, though he still is my sensitive boy most of the time.
We've travelled a bit this year after staying put the last two years. Italy in July and Glasgow in September. The kids are becoming pretty seasoned travellers now so both went pretty smoothly. It was lovely to have a real family break in Italy, just chilling with no agenda or demands. And our return to Glasgow after almost a 2 year break was heartening, a reminder of what we miss and love about our home, but also so sad because we can't be there now. 

We have no idea what 2015 holds for us. A good chance of growth, change, excitement and disappointment. We'll take it all as it comes and deal with it the best we can as a family. 

Best wishes to you and your family for the holiday season of 2014 and for the unknown that is 2015. I hope it brings health, happiness, dreams and wishes. 

Love from the Chief, myself and the Weans. Seasons greetings from the Clan in Finland. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Santa Baby

We've seen a lot of Santas and Joulupukki this year. They seem to be everywhere: our supermarket, mall, fund raising bake sales for the nursery and the Chief's work's family Christmas party (say that fast 3x). 

No, I'm not ready for Christmas and no, I'm not in the mood. I tried today to take the kids into town to see the Christmas lights, market and displays. The market wasn't open yet, so the kids just climbed around Uspensky and the Senaatintori. 

So to kick off this holiday season and get me in the holiday swing, I'll share some Father Christmasness.

My favourite are the Finnish-style Joulupukki, they have a bit of style and know how to tend to the beard. 

Christmas Pudding's first Santa. She wasn't impressed. It was the beard obviously, the real Santa has a much cooler beard. 

And then these little Tonttu (elves) showed up at our house. 

Think someone has spiked the piparkakkua.

Crazy, Happy and Grumpy Tonttu, just about describes the season for me. Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

First Snow Winter 2014

Ok, it's not the first snow, but the first proper snow. These pictures are from about 3.30-4pm, already dark. The kids loved walking home from nursery in the snow. It's Pudding's first real experience of snow.

It felt a bit like Narnia.

After the kids went to bed I went out and shoveled the walk. I find it very relaxing, the silence and physical labour. 
The next morning the kids were so excited, they even turned off the telly of their own accord and went out to play early. 
My kids love to eat snow. 
And throw snowballs, usually at me. 

We went over to a friend's house and played with sledges. 

The snow is melting now, but it'll be back. 

Sorry for still not posting much. I am still about, but it's been a tough month: a friend's death, ill family member in Scotland and the usual sleep problems here.  We're trying to get back to normal, so bear with me. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

October Catch-Up After a Month of Illnesses

Sorry, I've been absent this month. We had 3 weeks of constant illness in the house where at least one child, usually more were off sick from nursery or school. But we seem to be coming out of the tail end of it with only an ear infection to clear up. We've had 2 doses of a nasty cold and one 24 hour stomach bug, including the adults. 

It doesn't help that Bump seems to be a chronic fever-taker and her nursery has a 24 hour fever/sickness free rule. So she'll be great for a day and then just when it's time to send her back she'll come down with another fever. She also has the great ability to get ill right after seeing our friends, so even if she appears healthy, I'm sure she's sharing those germs around when we have playdates or parties. Which makes me more wary of taking her out. I avoided a Halloween party this weekend for that reason, only for her to come down with another fever the night before, the same day as visiting a friend's house.  

So we have barely left the house at the weekends this past month which means no birthday photos for Mouse with lovely fall foliage as it's all gone now. But I will post some catch-up photos as I'm downloading those off my phone.

I've also been busy at the weekends when not planted on the couch myself, getting the house and garden ready for winter. It's been slow going. We have half the leaves raked and bagged, but still need to do the back and to clear up the pots and plants. Hopefully I'll get it done before the weather turns. 

Though we've had our first snow fall. Wasn't much but felt like a warning to get things sorted. 

On an up note, I've hired a handy man to help with some of these jobs we don't have the tools or time for. Amazing how quick something gets done when you have both. He's gotten rid of all the wood junk behind the garage and last year's leaves we tried to compost. Now I just need to restack the wood pile. 

It meant I could focus on some other things like sorting out the playroom. We all love this carpet on top of the underfloor heating. It's lush. The kids have been playing in there more at our insistence and we're trying to keep all the toys under control and tidied. I bought a huge under bed box for all the Lego and strangely it hasn't come out since it all went away. They've been playing with other toys. I need to have a pre-Christmas toy gut though. 

I've also completed a few projects and starting on some new ones. Hat and neck warmer done for me. Hat a bit big, so wondering if I should pull it apart and restitch tighter. 

Made a similar neckwarmer in rainbow colours for Bump and her Baba. And for a laugh a leaf crown. 

Working on Christmas decorations as well. These will look better once they are stretched and starched. Would like to do a garland of them in white and red, all different designs, but we'll see how far I get. 

And here's some photos that have been gathering virtual dust on my phone. 

I look good in some hats, but never as good as Wee Puddin.

My new phone has some cool gadgets like 360 degree pictures.


From the Highland Games

Finnish summertime

How do you do, Granny and Grandad. 

First mega throw herself on the ground tantrum. Because I wouldn't carry her around. After 20 minutes I needed a sit down. I'd hold her, she could sit on my lap, but she wasn't accepting it.

Mouse doing what he loves.

Someone likes Mum's homemade ice lollies.

They can finally play together and are loving it. I'm sure the fighting will begin soon enough.  

Hopefully we'll be getting out in the world more over the next few weeks before we're snowed under. 

Enjoy November. 

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