I’m back

I’m back, and will begin blogging again!  I’ll go more into depth about recent life (all good things), but I want to write this down before I forget it.

Olli started telling stories to the kids long ago- stories that they would help tell.  I jumped on the bandwagon only in the past few months, and the results are AMAZING.

Here are two stories as told by Henry and me.

STORY ONE:  Henry and the Chicken

Me:  Once upon a time there was a …

H:  Snake

M:  Named…

H:  Henry.

M:  And Henry the snake loved to…

H:  Eat

M:  He loved to eat…

H:  Chicken.

M:  He loved to eat chicken more than anything.  Fried chicken, breaded chicken, baked chicken, boiled chicken.  He loved chicken soup and chicken pasta.  He loved chicken.  One day he really wanted chicken, so he went to…

H:  Benjy Snake’s house.

M:  And he asked,”Do you have any chicken?”  And Benjy the snake said…

H: “No.

M:  But I’m going to the store, would you like to come with me?”  And Henry said…

H:  ”Yes.”

M:  So, they left for the store and on the way, they saw a…

H:  chicken.

M:  And they thought, “We don’t need to buy a chicken!  We can eat this one!”  So, they caught the chicken.  But it was so cute they couldn’t eat it.  They decided to keep it as a pet.

THE END.

 

STORY TWO:  Henry and the Egg

Me:  Once upon a time there was a …

H:  Snake

M:  Named…

H:  Henry.

M:  And Henry the snake loved to…

H:  Eat

(Sidenote:  Our stories often start out the same)

M:  He loved to eat…

H:  eggs.

M:  He loved them fried and scrambled and boiled and poached.  But most of all he loved…

H:  Chocolate milk eggs.

(Sidenote:  Bet you didn’t see that one coming!)

M:  He really really loved chocolate milk eggs.  Well, it was his birthday, and he opened his first package.  And in the package was a…

H:  strawberry egg.

(Sidenote:  What a surprise, right?!)

M:  And Henry the snake thought, “A strawberry egg?!  But I like chocolate milk eggs!”  He opened his second package, and inside that was a…

H:  chocolate milk egg.

M:  ”Yipee!  A chocolate milk egg!  I am so happy!  I think I’ll give the strawberry egg to…

H:  Benjy the snake

(Sidenote:  As if we had any doubt…)

M:  because they’re his favorite.”  And he did and everyone was happy.

THE END.

6 months and 2 days

Look, Ade!!  See??!  Your six month post only 2 days late!!

Ade is officially mobile.  Like, super mobile.  She’s been mobile for a bit now, but now she can inch worm herself across the floor at an alarming pace.

She can put her tutti in her mouth by herself with surprising alacrity.  Of course, not in the middle of the night when it would be rather helpful.

She has the biggest smile on the planet.  She smiles so big her eyes sometimes disappear.  And she smiles at everyone and never cries.  Yesterday I was Skyping with my mom on the bus and there was a kid crying.  ”Do I hear Adelaide?” she asked.  ”No, mom.  My kid never cries.”  Like, ever.  The legend of the due date baby lives on.

6 months and 2 days

At 5 months and 30 days, we introduced solids.  True to tradition, we started with carrots.  But since she’s the third kid, she didn’t get them homemade.  Organic jarred is the best I could do.  If we ever have  a fourth, (s)he’ll be lucky if they’re organic.  I’ve now tried feeding her real food five times, and all five times, it’s pretty much gone like the first time.  Which is to say not at all.  I had it in my head that since she was so much older to start solids than the boys that she would scarf down mass amounts of food immediately and then sleep all night.

6 months and 2 days

Not the case.  We still get to visit every 2-3 hours all night long.

I don’t remember this age ever being so much fun.  I think it’s just that now I know what’s coming, so I appreciate this easy time.  We are ladies who lunch and shop and walk together.  I know that soon I’ll need to entertain her and keep her occupied.  Someday she’ll have tantrums and her own will.  So now I’m just enjoying the most mellow baby ever born (which is saying a lot, since both boys were also very easy babies).

Happy six months (and 2 days…), Adelaide.  Mama loves you and that great big smile more and more everyday.

5 months, 26 days…

Oh, Adelaide. You poor, poor third child.  I swear.  When you turned 5 months, I thought about it.  I marveled at how big you were.  I tried make a mental note of all you were able to accomplish in such a short time.  But, dear third child, I didn’t manage to get the camera out and I certainly didn’t get a blog post written.  That was because we were in the middle of moving flats, and we didn’t have internet.  In fact, we wouldn’t have internet for a full three weeks.  And when I sit down to use the internet, I’m sitting on a cracked tile floor in the hallway, because we have no furniture to sit upon and nowhere else to put the computer.   I’m sorry I didn’t get my act together to duly celebrate your five month birthday.

But I want you to know that at 5 months and 26 days, you’re every bit as fabulous.  You are so close to crawling, it terrifies me.  You continue to smile at everyone you meet.  You have found your feet (you had found them at five months).  You push yourself into a one-hand supported sit.  You love to eat paper. You like bouncing and bouncing with your strong little legs.  You sing along with the Disney and Raffi CDs and talk a lot- especially when you’re tired.  You are such a go-with-the-flow baby that I can take you anywhere and everywhere and know we’ll be just fine.

In a few days, you’re going to turn six months.  Please don’t think I love you any less if I drop the ball once again.  I DO love you.  It’s just that, as you’ll learn, life happens.  And at the moment, life is happening a lot.

5 months, 26 days...

A Sunday Morning in the city

So, here’s how yesterday morning went.

Olli was out of town- men’s weekend at the cottage.  Ade woke up at 12, 2, and 4am to eat.  This is not unusual.  I haven’t slept for longer than 3 hours together in six months.  She then woke up for reals at 5:45.

Sidenote:  when Ade wakes up, she doesn’t cry, she sings.  ”Haaaa.  Hoooo.  Hooooooh.”

She went back to sleep at 7, at which point Benjy woke up.  I got Benjy breakfast, turned on the DVD player, gave him a set of headphones, and then went back to bed.

I slept for an hour.

Ade woke up and Henry woke up at 8:30.  I then discovered Henry’d peed in the bed and everything was soaking wet- pajamas, underwear, sheet, pillow, blanket, mattress, mattress pad.  I stripped his bed, added the dirty laundry to the ever growing pile (remember, we have no washing machine at the moment), got him washed off and into clothes.

I showered Ade and got her dressed.  She looked adorable.

Then I showered and got myself dressed.  I looked less adorable.  I was totally out of clean white undergarments, so I was sporting an awesome black bra with white tank top.  EURO TRASH.

Then Ade pooped, a blowout ensued, and the sheet covering the “couch” (thin mattress on the floor) was a casualty. *Sigh*

Changed Ade, threw the sheet on the pile, and accepted reality.  My black bra wearing, exhausted single mom self wasn’t going to make it to church.

Instead, we spent the day at my mother in law’s, doing 7 hours of laundry.  SEVEN HOURS.

BUT.  Two great things happened that morning in the city.

1.  I had a very effective cup of coffee.

2.  I got these photos of my kids being very silly and very sweet with one another.  Sweet and kind of insane.

A Sunday Morning in the city

Sidenote:  I recognize this says “yesterday” and I’m posting this on a Wednesday.  I wrote the post on Wednesday, but the cord to connect my memory card reader has been in our car for three days.  And because we’re in the city without a parking permit, we have to park in very strange places, including a free spot 1/2 mile from our flat.  And up until today, I haven’t had the wherewithal to remember said cord and so the photos have remained safely on the memory card.

Further sidenote:  Yes, Henry is petting Ade with socks on his hands.  I told him to put his socks on.  I didn’t tell him to put his socks on his feet.

My Second

Henry.

Oh, Henry.

To know him is to love him.  I mean REALLY love him.  He’s so charming.  And sweet.  And silly.  Seriously.  He’ll be casually walking down the street and then bust into some awesome kung fu dance moves.  He’ll wiggle his eyebrows and say, “Ohhhhhh yeahhhhhh.”  He’ll snuggle.  He’ll hold your hand.  He’ll talk about Captain Hook at length.

Until he won’t.

And then it’s over.  Mayhem ensues.

Henry is so much more complicated than I ever thought a two year old could be.  I expect 2 year olds to have no filter and just REACT to the situation HONESTLY.

But that’s not Henry.

For instance.  A couple weeks ago, I arranged for Benjy and his friend to go to a movie together- Monsters University.  I didn’t have Henry go because I honestly thought he wouldn’t be interested.  Benjy would spend the WHOLE DAY glued to the TV if I let him.  But Henry will watch no more than 30 minutes before he’s onto bigger and better things.  The thought of spending 10 euros on a ticket for him to walk out of the movie 1/3 of the way through (why are kids’ movies so LONG these days??) didn’t make any sense.  So, while Benjy was at the movies with me and our friends, Henry was at the park with Olli and his friend.

Henry didn’t complain.

But FOUR DAYS LATER, Henry comes to me and askes, “Mama, why didn’t I go to the movies?”

He’d been thinking about it for four days.

A few days later he said, “Next time, I’ll go to the movies, too.”

STILL thinking about it.

He was upset I didn’t take him to the movies.  But he didn’t react then.  He let it stew.  And marinate.  He calmly discussed it with me.  And then it exploded days later.  Meltdowns.  Hysterical meltdowns.  And I don’t mean hysterical “funny ha-ha.”

Olli and I agreed that there’d been a lot of changes in our home and he could probably use some alone time with me.  So, we scheduled a breakfast date last Saturday.  We got breakfast (doughnuts), bought him some shoes and then he got to choose a package of big boy underwear for his very own.

Because there isn’t enough change in his life, we thought throwing in potty training right now would be an awesome idea.  Potty training while we have to drive 10 miles to access a washing machine.  Potty training at a summer cottage with no washing machine at all.  The child peed through EVERY SINGLE pair of underwear and shorts we had in one day.  Both his and his brother’s.  In hindsight, maybe we could have held off on the whole thing until we were settled in America.  But I digress.

During the date, I remembered that a date with Henry is a date with HENRY.  With his whole enormous personality.  Nothing was going to be simple.  Nothing would be quick.  We’d have to take time for him to run serpentine through the mall.  We’d have to take time for him to play hide and seek in the racks of clothes.  We’d need to try on 5 pairs of shoes and I’d need to negotiate for him to accept the cheapest shoes.  I needed to step inside the Zone of Patience and let him have his fun.

And it was fun.  It was certainly memorable.

But post-breakfast date, I’m not sure that things have really gotten better.  I think Henry is rather sensitive.  I think a lot is going on in his little mind that we don’t see.  I think his reactions (biting the teacher(!), refusing to get off the tram(!!), running away in the middle of the city(!!!)) are all manifestations of his little brain at work, trying to process what he feels.

Anyway.  Here’s a picture of him eating a marshmallow.  Seriously.  To know him is to love him.

My Second

—————————

Any advice from other parents who have similar “fun” with their toddler would now be appreciated.  Ideas?

 

The chaos

In less than one month, Olli and I and our three little’uns will start our adventure Out West.  We’re heading Stateside for six months.

SIX WHOLE MONTHS.

What are we going to do?  Hang out.

HOW are we doing this?  A little something called paternity leave.  We live in a country with the most generous government in the world.  And it’s PAYING Olli to hang out with this family.

I couldn’t be happier.

So, this past month, in preparation for our trip abroad, we have been living a life of insanity.

We found people to sublet our flat, but they needed it starting August 1.  So, with three days’ notice, we packed our belongings (not the furniture- luckily they needed the furniture) and moved to the city (woot!) to a one bedroom unfurnished flat.  The kids are in travel beds, Olli and I are on mattresses on the floor.  The only other furniture is the kiddie table and chairs.  We live like squatters.

Daycare is still in our old hood, so about 2 hours a day is spent ferrying the kids to and fro.  Except for Wednesdays, those are still at home with me.  In our one bedroom flat without furniture.  Or toys.

We have no washing machine and no laundromat, so when I’m not ferrying kids to daycare, I’m ferrying our laundry to my inlaws’.

Life is crazy.

But also kind of awesome.  No furniture and no stuff means that it’s super easy to tidy up.  Living out of suitcases and boxes also lets you relax the definition of “tidy” in the first place.

The boys are in the living room.  Ade is with us in the bedroom.  And we get to be in the city!

So, Olli and I were sitting there one night, looking around, and thinking, “We could do this.  If living in a one bedroom flat is what we have to do to live in the city, we could totally do this.”  It would require getting rid of a lot of STUFF, but ultimately, that’s liberating.  And my parenting style is “out and about” anyway, so it’s not like we’d be stuck inside for days.  And if we owned the flat and built beds/storage space into it, we could totally make it work!  YES!  We can do this!

You all reading this are shaking your heads thinking “SHE’S CRAZY!”  But luckily!  My husband is as crazy as I am!!  We can do this!

So, now in addition to the aforementioned insanity, we’ve also been trolling the interwebs for suitable flats and meeting with the bank to discuss financing options.  Not that we’ll necessarily buy now before we leave- in fact, the chances of buying now are SLIM, but just to know what’s out there before taking off.

I tell you what, kids.  Never a dull moment.

Summer

Summer in Finland means lots of amazing things.  It means pristine beaches.  It means free park lunch for any child with a bowl.  It means farmer tans.  It means deriving 98% of your calories from ice cream.

It also means daycare shuts down for five weeks.  SHUTS DOWN.  I know I’ve mentioned this before.  Because it’s kind of sort of totally traumatic for me.

I know there are parents who read blog this who regularly keep their kids home.  Who even *gasp* manage to SCHOOL their kids at home.  My hat is off to you.

I’d be eaten alive.

Going into these five weeks, I was psyching myself up.  Henry had been so upset about going to daycare recently, I thought some time at home would be just the thing.  And Benjy was excited about being with me, too.  ”This’ll be just what we need.”

And maybe it was.  Maybe it is.

But that doesn’t mean it’s been easy.

These past three weeks (I still have one week left, and the first four days my in laws took them to the summer cottage) have been SO HARD.  Like, unbelievably hard.  Some days, the fact that both kids manage to stay alive for 24 hours is the major accomplishment.

Because it seems like they’re hell bent on killing each other.  Benjy irritates Henry (on purpose).  Henry whacks Benjy.  Benjy wrestles Henry.  Henry gets a bloody lip.  Screaming and crying ensues.

My strategy thus far has been, “LEAVE THE FLAT!” because our flat is full of sharp corners and hard surfaces.  So, if they start attacking each other, the bloody lips are really inevitable.  Plus, being at home is boring.
And everyone knows boredom is the gateway drug to INSANITY.  So, we leave.  We go to the beach.  We go to the park.  We go to the farm.  We visit with friends.  We dogsit.  And sometimes it’s great.

But sometimes I sit in the kitchen and cry.

No joke.

Last Tuesday, there I was, sitting in the kitchen- totally flat out exhausted. CERTAIN I wasn’t going to make it until Olli got home.  ”What am I doing wrong?!  My kids are great, so why are they such monsters?  Why can’t I handle this?!”

And then someone flipped a switch.  I swear to you, prayers were answered.  Because Wednesday’s dawn brought new, helpful fantastic children.  A very limited amount of arguing.  Benjy’s been truly helpful (not just “helpful” like when kids want to “help” make pancakes and you let them, even though it’s going to take 32 times longer than if you would just do it yourself, but TRULY helpful- carrying suitcases, singing to Ade when she cries, picking up a sign that some crazy 20 year old girls had knocked down).  Henry does his “silly walk” any time I ask (I’ll have to post a video of it some day.  It’s incredible).  They go to sleep when we ask.

I don’t know what happened (apart from an answer to prayer), but I continue to pray the magic spell cast over my children holds for the next week.  Just one… more… week…

Summer Summer Summer Summer Summer Summer Summer

Särkänniemi!

So, I’m pretty much obsessed with theme parks.  Really and truly.  My perfect vacation would be a road trip across America visiting every theme park we pass.  Busch Gardens, Six Flags, Disneyland, Disneyworld, Euro Disney (ps. don’t go to Euro Disney.  It LOOKS like Disney, it SMELLS like Disney- it is, in fact, NOT Disney)- I’ve done ‘em all.  I’m so hard core, I’ve even done some pregnant.

When I arrived in Finland NINE YEARS AGO, I heard about its largest theme park up in Tampere.  It’s called Särkänniemi.  Särkanniemi means awesome in Finnish.  Just kidding.  But it should.

Because it IS awesome.  It’s great for little kids, it’s great for big kids (I’m including myself in that category), it’s reasonably priced (Henry was a whopping five euros, Olli and I were 37 a piece).  After NINE YEARS (sorry, that has to be in caps, because I just can’t believe I’ve lived here for NINE YEARS) of dreaming about Särkänniemi, of planning Särkänniemi, of being so sure THIS would be the summer we finally made it- we really actually did.

Last weekend our whole family met Olli’s brother’s family and Olli’s cousin’s family in Tampere to enjoy this theme park to its fullest.

Going to Särkänniemi was less about the crazy rides for me (although I did get one in- you ride on a motorcycle, strapped in from the back.  It shoots you out and you loop and zig and zag for a truly wild 30 seconds- fantastic!) and more about the kids.  Because we all know that going to a theme park with kids is different from going by yourself.  When you go with kids, 90% of your time is spent waving and grinning like an idiot as your kid passes you on the the train caboose for the fifteenth time.  But the grins are so genuine, because there is NOTHING CUTER.  They’re so happy, they’re so proud of themselves for being independent, you’re so proud of them, you’re so happy they’re happy.  It’s a magical thing.

Throughout the course of our day I…

-ate the best burger I’ve ever had.  From a restaurant run by Hans Välimäki. He’s a judge on Finland’s Top Chef and the head chef at one of the swankiest restaurants in Helsinki.  And owns a burger stand.  That sells burgers made of filet.  *Mouth waters at the memory*

-watched in awe as Henry approached a costumed character.  He NEVER does this.  He’s TERRIFIED of anything in a large furry suit.  To be fair, he was afraid of the man character in the top hat, but was very comfortable around the mother character in her apron.  Hmm…

-saw adult micro pigs, so I could understand how big of a pig pen I’ll need to build when I finally own one.

-took Benjy on his first driving lesson on the bumper cars (Turn, turn, turn- now straight ahead.  Turn, turn, turn, now straight).

-got a serious crick in my neck from watching Henry climb all over the Angry Birds climbing structure.  Lots of waving and grinning like an idiot.  Lots.

-handled more than one meltdown as each kid took turns flipping out from exhaustion.  No naps are a dangerous thing at a theme park.  We overcame them by loading them up with ice cream cones.  And then endured more meltdowns as the sugar crash blew up in our faces.

-thought I lost my keys.  They had serendipitously fallen into the outer lining of our baby carrier.  THANK GOODNESS.

-watched my boys and niece joyfully take a pony ride through the park.  The pony attendant said those three were the happiest riders she’s ever had in all her time of pony attending.  They were adorable.

-finished my day with a water ride with Benjy.  It was his first- a typical log ride.  As we took the little dips and turns, Benjy would proudly announce, “I’m not wet!”  ”Just wait!” would be my response.  Finally, we hit the final drop and a huge wave of water smashed into us, drenching us from head to toe.  I had no idea how Benjy was going to react.  And for a split second he was silent.  I prepared myself for another meltdown.  But then his infectious giggle erupted.  ”I’m SO WET!!  That was SO FUN!”  It turned a typical log ride into THE memory of the day.  It was fantastic.

-didn’t take a single picture.  Not a’one.  Not even with my phone.  I intentionally left my beast of a camera home (it’s just SO HEAVY), our point and shoot has died, my new point and shoot is waiting for me in America, and my phone was out of battery.  Part of me is really sad about it- I’d have loved to get the kids’ expressions on the pony ride or during the dolphin show or on the Crazy Bus ride or after the splashdown.   But part of me is really happy that I just got to enjoy it without the stress of capturing the moment.  But I’m not really worried, because when we do our road trip across America and stop at every theme park along the way, there will be enough photos to last FOREVER.

All in all, Särkänniemi was a really FUN day at a time when I really needed FUN with my kids.  I needed to laugh with them and play with them and not bemoan their insanity or the filthy flat or the piles of laundry.  I just needed to enjoy my children.  And I really did.  Waving and grinning like an idiot.

 

A little bit devastated

A little back history on the sleeping arrangements of our children.

Benjy:  Slept in the Finnish Box straight home from the hospital.  Usually banished to the kitchen table for the night.  At two months, moved to a big crib in his own room.  NEVER slept with us for fear he would never then sleep on his own.

Henry:  Finnish Box ready and waiting for his arrival from the hospital, but quickly determined he slept better in our bed- didn’t care about never sleeping alone in his own bed- NEEDED SLEEP NOW.  Slept with us in our bed until terrified of smothering him.  Moved to the box at 2 months old.  Moved to crib at 3 months.  Slept in our room for the better part of 18 months.

It wasn’t until preparing for Adelaide’s arrival that I heard about sidecarring a crib- a separate crib for the baby with the side missing, completely attached to your bed.  The ease of sharing a bed, the safety of having the baby in her own space.  GENIUS!  Why’d it take us 3 kids to figure this out??!

So, we bought the cheapest crib from Ikea and attached it using online tutorials.  It was great.  Really, really great.

But then Ade started rolling over.  And recently she’s started crawling in earnest.  I mean, she’s always moved around a lot when she sleeps (my kids have always slept on their stomachs.  Yes, I know the danger of SIDS, but I assure you, even with the kid’s face planted in the mattress, there was no way he/she was going to smother him/herself.  And they’ve always slept better on their tummies- please don’t yell at me), but recently, she’s REALLY started moving.  She plants her face down on the mattress and propels herself forward with her legs.  Right off her bed onto mine.

And I’ve been getting more and more worried that she’s going to propel herself right off of my bed and onto the floor.

So, today we detached the crib and put up the fourth side of the crib.  And I’m pretty much devastated.

I was seriously tearing up as we were tightening the screws.

Which is pretty ridiculous because SHE’S NOT GOING ANYWHERE.  She’s in the exact same place, right next to my bed.

But it’s not the same.  It doesn’t feel like we share a bed anymore.

And it’s more than that- it’s another stage in her life that is changing.  Changing too quickly!  I’m not prepared!  Slow down, Ade!!  Stay little forever!

Two by two…