Sunday, June 29, 2014

Belated Birthday Portraits

While enjoying Juhannus last week I remembered that I haven't done Foo and Bump's birthday pictures for this year. I always forget this time of year, but always remember for Mouse's birthday. Think I'm just totally overwhelmed by their joint party that I never remember until too late and then have to find something that works. As we were leaving the petting farm perfect opportunity presented itself, lupin-heaven, so I pulled the camera out one last time. The owner of the petting farm had mowed a path alongside the country road to the car parking area and left a row of wild lupins that grow all over the country this time of year. 

The kids starting stripping the flowers and throwing the petals at Pudding, so things got a bit silly, but I managed to get a few taken. 

The older kids are all at an age where they don't relax when I get the camera out: they pose, they make funny faces, generally stiffen up. So getting them to relax for portraits is quite difficult. We try to distract them. 

We had Foo counting in Finnish. I love that each number had a different expression. 

Bump was asked to dance and just got a bit silly. 

I think we got there in the end, though Bump is a little distant in hers. The silly ones are a truer representation of her personality.  
First birthday.
Sixth birthday. 
First birthday
Fourth birthday.  
I can't believe how fast they've grown.

And since they were in a good mood I tried a group shot, but even though it was overcast it was too bright for them to lay looking up. So things got typically crazy, but that is what Clan life is like. At least they're smiling. 

Keep on smiling even under clouds. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Juhannus Clan Style

We're not Finnish and probably will never properly fit in here. This becomes even more apparent at Juhannus, Midsummer. The city clears out as all the Finns head to their summer cottages, to sit at the lakeside, in the sauna, out of the city. The capital is abandoned to the foreigners who haven't inherited a place in the forests and cannot afford the crazy prices of renting one. 

This year we made the most of it with our expat friends. On the Friday we went for a picnic at Kaivopuisto with a bunch of other mums. Pudding and I even made it on the evening news in English to show that only the foreigners are the only ones left. While chatting with the other mums we learned about a petting zoo not too far out of the city, so we decided to abandon the city ourselves, even if just for the day. 

On Midsummer day we packed up early and headed west. Forty-five minutes away we discovered a wee gem, perfect for our Clan. Lomämäen Lemmikkipuisto - a pet park, is a home that has been turned into a mini zoo with a load of unexpected animals. We first found Shetland ponies and a donkey and thought it would be like the petting farms back home. After we tried to pay we discovered this wasn't your run-of-a-mill bunny, lamb, pony park. (The card reader was down and never worked so we gave the owner all our cash, but it didn't cover the entry free. He let us in anyway. We'll definitely go back just to pay him back.)

Our first discovery was the raccoon dogs. I had never heard of them until we came to Finland. The name is spot on for the coloured one, I didn't even know there could be white ones. The owner said we could feed all the animals (but watch out with the parrots) so I should have known better than try and pet them. They thought I had food and gave me a gentle nip to check. Same with Pudding, but none of the animals were aggressive. 

Not only could we see and feed animals in cages, but even some wandering around the yard as well. Even better in the house the owners will let you touch and hold quite a few animals. We arrived quite early so we got to spend a lot of time holding and petting things: lizards, snakes, birds, raccoons, skunks. The owners were happy to talk to the kids as much as they wanted, which was a lot. Foo was in heaven. Even later when a few other families came it was never crowded. During the non-holiday summer weekends it may be busier, but the owners said it never gets bad. I feel like I'm jinxing things for us a bit just sharing its location. I want it as our own private playplace. 

The cafe is basic, but we're getting pretty good at picnic lunches now that we're eating less processed foods. We also discovered a play bit with a trampoline and bouncy castle on the way out so the kids had a quick bounce before leaving. I'm sure it will be higher on the agenda next time. 

It was a lovely day and definitely wore everyone out. It made our Juhannus this year memorable. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Getting a Grip

Pudding's 9 month photo:

She's got her two top teeth (ouch), can sit up from lying down and vice versa, pull herself up onto her knees on her own and up to her feet with our hands. She's unstoppable, so the stair gate has gone up and the cot mattress down. 

With all this development she's struggling to go to sleep. Not only when the Weans are causing havoc. They have tried really hard to be quiet (telly has helped) but she wakes at any little sound. Last week I couldn't get her to sleep longer than 20-30 minutes maybe once a day. Yesterday she slept for 2.5 hours after have a 10 minute nap in 7.5 hours, so I'm hoping we reset her somehow. 

Her not sleeping means I wasn't getting anything done: cooking with her on my hip or in between crying fits. No cleaning. I've had to find easier recipes for my meal plan this week as I just haven't had time. We've been trying to replace snacks and breakfasts this week. I've told the kids I'm not buying any more of their over-processed, over-sugared cereals. They won't eat the yummy granola I've made, so I'm on the hunt for unsugared puffed rice and corn flakes. Need to hit some health stores later. I've been making French toast a bit more, trying to get into the habit of cooking a quick breakfast. 

We've had a bubble frenzy lately. Full marks to the cheap dollar store bubble maker. Saves me some time, money and breath. They always spill the regular bubble container. This one I screw on tight and they can do it themselves. 

I've been trying harder with the kids: to put my expectations of them on a more realistic level, not expecting them to remember to be quiet for the baby for a long time. Hence the telly going on when I'm trying to settle her. I'm also trying to point out good behaviour more, keep my instructions simpler and to just stay calm when everything is going wrong. 

I've also given up trying to run them ragged. It seems to make them super-hyper. So we do one physical thing a day, a lighter one if we go out for appointments or long errands. We're doing better, but always room for improvement. Hopefully Pudding sleeping better will set off a domino fall of happy Clan behaviour. 

Other silliness from the last week:

The Chief made the kids a fairy house and dinosaur cave. Unfortunately the fairy house has had more snail visitors than fairies that we know of.  

There was a very posed sword fight at the weekend. Mouse and Bump have some fancy moves. Foo is more likely to employ his mother's chaos theory when engaging. 

Is it just me or does Pudding look a bit bloody thirsty here?
From my little demons to yours. Have a good one. 

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