Tuesday, December 22, 2015

2015 - Where Has it Gone?

2015 has been a blur, so I'm struggling to know where to begin with this annual review.

The year started with a bump when the Chief lost his mum just after Christmas. We rushed off to Scotland for the funeral and while it was lovely to catch up with everyone briefly, it was a tough visit.

The early part of the year was organising Foo's entry into primary school, Finnish paperwork galore. He 'graduated' from Esikoulu, kindergarten, only a little worried about what the next autumn held in store, but after visiting the new school his mood changed to excitement so that made the summer much easier.

The Chief took a skiing trip to Sweden in the early spring and I took a short break to Barcelona on my own in May and had a lovely, relaxing time. It's been a long time since either of us have travelled by ourselves, it's nice to know we can still do it.

The big holiday was in June and July to the USA to visit my family. It was a crazy, packed 2 weeks of family, food and festivities with the 4th of July in the middle. The kids loved meeting their American cousins, doing local things like a boat on the Mississippi, fishing, watching the fireworks and spending time with the Grandma.

The rest of the summer was spent being lazy and spending time with friends who would soon be heading away from Finland. The weather wasn't great, so it wasn't a beach summer, but lots of time in parks, islands, zoos, etc.

August was back to school. Foo started first grade, Mouse third with a new teacher and Bump went to nursery on her own for the first time. The kids are all really busy with their various activities: swimming, guitar lessons, Foo's therapies and playdates, so I'm kept jumping all day. 

I also started taking a Finnish course through the Chief's work. It's the first course in a long time that's been at the right level for me so I've learned tons, filling in the gaps in my random self-taught knowledge. I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to starting again in the New Year. Pudding has been spending that time with a babysitter. It's been a slow process, but she's happy to be with her now which will hopefully help with the transition to nursery next year. It's still lovely to hear her say 'I miss you when you're at your English class' - she gets it mixed up with Foo's English class.

We've had a few visitors this year which has been lovely. One was some friends with a daughter the same age as Bump. She was overjoyed as she doesn't have a lot of friends her age and gender except at nursery. We did a few day trips, though for our second guest our car died so we couldn't do as much as we liked. We're still trying to sort a new car, it's hard to find something big but cheap. We're currently renting one that's a tight fit. 

The last few months of the year has just been maintaining the status quo which is a full time job. The kids all got their report cards and nursery reports this week and they were all good. There's always wee things to work on, but their teachers are all happy with them. We've had Christmas shows and parties this week as well, but now the kids are out of school so we'll relax and do Christmassy things at home. 

We wish you all a happy holiday season and lots of Christmas love. We miss you all and hope to catch up over 2016. 

Friday, December 4, 2015

Warming Up to Christmas

There's no snow yet, and it can stay away a bit longer in my opinion, but it's definitely December or Joulukuu - Christmas month. I guess I should start getting ready, but as usual I'm not prepared or even willing to take my head out of the sand. I have next to no presents for the kids and no ideas what to get them. Luckily, they don't start selling the real trees until later in the month so I can put off decorating. I really need to give the house a good clean beforehand, but that is unlikely, so it will be cleaning as the tree goes up as usual. 

But some winter and Christmas traditions, both Finnish and from other countries, I do enjoy. Cookie making, crafting and taking advantage of the cold weather to put on the fire, wrap up warm and eat loads of yummy warming foods. 

To be honest though, I'm not getting to eat most of these foods. Since I've become gluten-free I've discovered I have to stay gluten-free or I pay the price. Half a slice of homemade bread and a gingerbread biscuit in the evening yesterday left me in agony half the night. So I'm trying to find gluten-free treats. So far they've been a disappointment. Gluten-free gingerbread that was as hard as a rock and not terribly tasty. Sorry, A, thanks for the recipe, I'll maybe try to tweak it a bit.  

What started as an impromptu idea to keep the kids from going stir crazy one weekend became a big project for me. I started out getting Foo to sew on buttons on his gingerbread man, but Bump wanted so many decorations that I ended up sewing everything as her glue wasn't really sticking. I only managed two dolls, but may make the others before Christmas. Or maybe not. 

Still a few more weekends before Christmas and then we have no plans over the holidays, so there's time for more crafts and food. 


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