Saturday, December 24, 2016

Holly Jolly 2016 Christmas Greetings

Merry Christmas everyone,

It’s that time of year again for the Clan’s catch-up. All in all, 2016 was a pretty quiet year. No big holidays or adventures, no big tragedies, little victories and lots of time together. I guess you’d call that a win.

The kids are all doing well. Mouse is 10 and in 4th grade and growing up fast. He still plays guitar and is getting quite good. He’s also been doing well at swimming, passing his first techniques class. He’s a reading demon, always with a book stuck to his nose. He, Foo and Bumptious have all discovered Pokemon Go and quite enjoy it, though they don’t go on as many treks as they did in the first months, but the sub-zero weather might have something to do with that.

Foo is 8 and in 2nd grade. He’s doing well in school and has lots of fun. His Finnish is brilliant and he’s beginning to help me and Mouse improve ours. He’s struggled a lot this year with his legs. There was a big mix-up with the hospital that took me a while to identify and fix, but it meant that he was without physio from January until August, so his walking deteriorated a lot. To the point that he needed a Botox treatment in both legs to relax the spasming muscles. This was followed by 3 weeks in lower leg casts to help stretch them. He wasn’t allowed to jump or run, but it didn’t stop him getting around. The first thing he wanted to do after being allowed to walk in them was to go hunt for Pokemon. His legs have improved since the casts were removed, hopefully the benefit will last.

Bumptious is 6 and in her kindergarten year which is held in her same nursery. She’s keen to learn to read and write, but they don’t really start that here yet, though they help her do her own math and writing projects. She started ballet in January and performed in her first show last week. She was totally excited and did really well, smiling and waving at us. She also completed her beginners’ swimming course.

Pudding is 3 and started nursery in August. It was a big adjustment and it didn’t go smoothly at the beginning. But she is now very happy to go and learning lots of Finnish, though she won't speak it at nursery yet. She unfortunately just missed her first Christmas show due to a stomach bug, but I know she can sing all the songs. She has become a bit of a threenager with starting nursery which I guess is to be expected. And for Christmas she is getting Chicken Pox, poor soul. Not looking forward to this, but she's the last Wean to get them so that phase of childhood will be over in the Clan house.

As I said we haven’t really had any family holidays but spent the summer visiting local attractions. My mum came over in June and our friend C came over in June and October, so we tried to find new places to take them. I also went for a quick visit over to Ireland to visit C and do some genealogy research for the Chief. The Brexit vote (the UK’s decision to leave the European Union) left his job at risk, so he applied for Irish citizenship through his grandfather. We’ve actually just had news that his application was approved, so his job and our life in Finland is safe.
With Pudding going to nursery, I’ve been child-free for a few hours in the day for the first time in forever. I’ve continued to study Finnish and took an online creative writing class to work on my novel. Between those, Foo's physio and all the kids’ lessons I haven’t really had much time, but it’s amazing how much more you get done without a kid or 4 in tow.

We have no idea what the next year holds for us, but The Clan and I wish you a very Happy Holidays and a Happy 2017 where it may find you.

Lots of love from Finland.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Whit's a Ceilidh then? Why Dinnae Ye Ken?

A ceilidh (prounounced kay-lee for those who are wondering) in Scottish Gaelic means a visit, but over the generations the word has transformed to mean a gathering where music, dancing and often eating takes place. The Finnish Scottish Society which has recently been formed to promote Scottish culture in Finland had its innaugural event last night in Helsinki - a St Andrew's Day Ceilidh and the Clan went along. St Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland, his day is November 30 and it is often used to celebrate all things Scottish. 

The day started with a family event with a bake sale full of Scottish treats, face painting, Christmas cake decorations and children's stories in Scots. It was a nice way for families to meet up before the craziness of the ceilidh later on.

The Chief started the story time with a reading of The Gruffalo in Scots which was a good giggle. They had another FSS member to read to all the kids later on so this was just a taster. 
My contribution to the bake sale. Remind me I never want to make tablet again, it turned out to be a bit of a palaver and I'm still finding burnt sugar all over my kitchen.
Pudding's Christmas cake. She loved eating the frosting and sprinkles. There was a craft table as well.  

After the day event we dropped the Weans off with a babysitter and put on our gladrags for a smashing evening. The Chief had invited some of his workmates from Romania and Poland so we got to introduce them to some traditional Scottish dancing. 

The Ceilidh was sold out so it was a tight squeeze to dance in the hall, but the Society got a great dance caller James who broke us up into groups and taught everyone the steps. We did some old favourites: The Dashing White Sergent, The Gay Gordons and the complicated-until-it-all-clicks Strip the Willow. A wee burl was had.

There were two bands: a ceilidh band whoes name I missed and a rock band that covered some Scottish hits called Poverty Bar. Having a real ceilidh band really made the dancing so much more fun. The night ended with Poverty Bar's take on the traditonal Runrig's version of 'Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomond' and 'Auld Lang Syne'.

Some of the Society members cooked up Haggis, Neeps and Tattie pie for the day event and Stovies, a vegetarian leek soup and cranachan during the ceilidh and even some late night snacks for after the dancing. It was some top scran. 
Dishing out the stovies and soup.
The Society was established just at the end of this year, so they will be properly starting in 2017 by asking for membership fees and will be hosting a Burns Supper some time in January/February. The group is open to anyone interested in Scottish culture. If you would like to become a member of the Finnish Scottish Society, please, join the Facebook page linked above and they will contact you soon.

There is also the Scots in Finland Facebook page which is a good place to be kept up to date with all events Scottish in Finland. 

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