Sunday, August 24, 2014

What I Learned Over the Summer Holidays

They've been back two weeks already, how'd that happen? 

Things I learned over the summer holidays. It was a trial by fire, to say the least. 

- Don't take them out of nursery early. Milk that childcare for all it's worth. I took the two middle ones out 3 weeks early, mug that I am. 

- You don't need to do something 'active' or 'away' every day. Sometimes they want a quiet day, to play with their dinosaurs, to draw, to veg. It doesn't have to be all go and a jammie day isn't a bad thing, for you or them. 

- Two at home days is our limit and even that is pushing it. Stir-craziness sneaks up on you, so go for a walk to the park even for an hour, to keep it from sending them on a hyper-rampage. 

- We don't need a strict routine over the holidays, even though Foo works best with one, but we do need a few things set in stone. Get them to eat breakfast as soon as you can, get them dressed after breakfast. If you do those 2 things, Foo is much more at ease and then you can ad lib things a bit more after that, like changing back into your jammies. 

- Taking them to do the big weekly shop is Hell, no matter how organised you are or how well behaved they are. Just don't do it, if there is any way to avoid it. Any kind of house work is also next to impossible to do with them all around, so abandon any hope of a spotless house.

- My kids get hyper when they're tired or bored or stir-crazy. I mean run around, scream, taunt each other until someone falls down and gets hurt or someone feels picked on or my head explodes from the noise. 

- Separating them is almost the worst punishment I can inflict. I remember my mum doing it, putting me and my brother in separate rooms when we got too much. We hated it. It works. I sometimes just put them on separate couches when they get a bit crazy. Allows them to settle down and figure out something else to do that won't incur Mummy's wrath. 

- Taking away telly is THE WORST punishment. 

- Telly can be your friend as a parent, so don't totally ban it. I gave up trying to keep it off all day. I needed them to be quiet so I could put the baby to sleep and that was the best way to shut them up quick. So when I was up settling Pudding they knew they could watch for a short while. 

- As much as you love them and enjoy the freedom and variety of the summer holidays, you will so look forward to BACK TO SCHOOL that you will count down the days at the end. And they will too, they miss their friends, the routine, not being around family 24 hours a day. 

Nine weeks holiday with all four of them was too long. I was ready for them to go back, as much as I love them, they need a bit of structure and routine in their lives and I need a few hours to do things. Wash floors, do a big shop, make dinner, drink a random cup of tea. I still have Pudding at home, but she naps occasionally and is a little better at playing on her own for a few minutes so I do feel a bit of pressure is off. 

And the school run this year, what a difference? Because it took us so long to find the house we didn't get a chance last year to find a nursery closer to our new base. So I spent an hour and 20 minutes twice a day driving back and forth across the city to pick and drop off kids. Not to mention therapy sessions, shopping trips, neuvola appointments for Pudding. 

I spent most of my day in the car and felt that Pudding spent her first 9 months strapped in her carseat. No wonder she hated it. I had nightmares about flipping the car on the motorway or blowing a tyre midwinter. I now have a 5 minute walk to the nursery and a 7 minute drive to Mouse's school. I now can do both in less than 30 minutes. Happy dance. 

I don't have tons of time to myself thought. Mouse didn't get into afterschool club this year so he only is in school for about 4 hours a day, a quirk of Finnish education. I try to get as many things as I can done in that time. I've signed up for a Finnish class that runs 2 mornings a week, Foo still has 2 therapy sessions a week, Mouse a swimming class. I hope to get to a baby group for Pudding and maybe even carve out some time for me. But I know there are not enough hours in the day. 

The Weans all headed back to school with style. Foo started first with a half-day settling in, then Mouse and Bump started. Mouse was a champ, when he learned that he had the same teacher and same room, he was totally chilled. Jumped out of the car and went off to the playground a total veteran 2nd grader. I still get a kiss though, probably not for long. 


Bump was great the first week like last year, excited to meet her new teacher and to play with the new toys. But she soon figured out that nursery means having to do things she doesn't want to do or in a way she doesn't want. That always rankles with Our Bumpshie. So the second week has had crying and clinging to her Daddy, fighting me and the teachers about her outer wear. We'll get there, slowly. 


Foo is in his Esikoulu year which is like kindergarten. I was a bit worried as he's moved to a mainstream nursery group, but he's taking it in his stride and is excited to be in Eskarit. His new teachers and assistant are lovely and really helpful and committed to making sure he's happy and we're involved with everything. Liking this new nursery and hopefully he is too. 


The Chief took the last two weeks off work to help us get settled. What a difference it makes having that help, not having to worry about waking Pudding from a nap to pick someone up, going to a therapy session on my own and reading a book for 45 minutes, in silence. We even had an occasional lunch date, going to miss him when he goes back tomorrow. 

The kids loved having him home, though he found out the hard way, what life is like with these four. All day, everyday. I think he'll skip off to work tomorrow. 



So we made the most of our 9 weeks, but now we're into autumn. The weather flipped the switch as soon as they went back to school. So here we go . . . 





Saturday, August 16, 2014

Summer Holiday's End

Summer is winding down. Unfortunately. 

Kids have returned to school accompanied by a sudden dip in the temperatures and thunderstorms. I've been crocheting and knitting with chunky orange wool. A handful of leaves are sprinkled over my windshield every morning. Signs of things to come.

But I'm going to cling onto summer for a bit longer. I have a back to school post to do, but here's some summery photos from the past few weeks.

The Harvest Festival at Laurence's Church Village. The kids were really in the wrong mood, stressed and tired with last weekend before school started, so we didn't stay long.



Oittaa Outdoor Centre and the Angry Birds Park. Great beach that's a lake rather than the sea with a big cafe and a huge playpark nearby. Oh, and trees perfect for climbing. You can also rent canoes or kayaks, but we haven't tried that yet. I prefer this Angry Birds Park to the one at Suurpelto and this beach to some of the others we've been to. Only downside is that it was super busy by mid-afternoon.



But pretty quiet if you go around 10am. 



We also took a final trip to the Lomamäen Lemmikkipuisto petting zoo before school starts. 



Find the chameleon. 



Turtle Parade. 
We spent much more time in the play area. Check out the bouncy castle baby action.










And we discovered a bit of the Villa Elfvik nature reserve that we had previously missed. There's a short walk through reeds taller than our heads. There's also a boat house that we didn't find yet, adventure for another day. 








Though the weather has turned, there's still plenty of fun to be had on the weekends. Roll on cool evenings, stews and soups, crumbles and jumpers. Autumn is my favourite season. Long may it last. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

TBT - Throw Back Thursday

Ok, it's no longer Thursday, but the thought counts. Babies do not always let you keep to a schedule you desire. 

I've seen people do Throw Back Thursday posts on Instagram and Facebook before. I like the idea of digging out old photos and revisiting the moment they captured. Family have even dug out some old photos of me recently that I didn't know existed which can be a joy or utter humiliation, late 70s and early 80s fashions were not kind. Old photos can bring a moment back to life. 

I love going through my old photos, I miss all the ones before the digital age that are stashed in our loft in Scotland. I hope to be reunited with them soon. Photos, my books and old journals are the things I've missed the most.

I've kept a journal continuously since I was 13, I think. I can't remember and can't check. I must have about a dozen volumes from old spiral notebooks to ones with little locks that were bought for me, but mostly they are the cloth covered blank books that you see in stationers. I've gotten more and more picky in my old age and recently bought a lovely leather covered one when in Italy. Can't wait to finish the volume I'm on and move on. 

I don't write much in them anymore. I'm much busier than I used to be, but also I seem to be more accepting of my lot in life. I used my journals not only to document what was happening to me, but to work through issues and concerns. Sometimes I still need a place to rant, cry, decipher events, but mostly now I just catch up with our life. This blog has almost become a journal, but is much less personal than my written ones. 

I only have my current one with me here in Finland and often feel like I've left a limb or 10 in Scotland. As it's too recent I won't be sharing any of my old entries, but I love to look back on this day a year ago, 5 years ago, 10 years ago to see where I was at: physically because, well, I have moved around, a lot, but also emotionally. To relive my children being born, to arriving in Scotland, to living in Norway, to going to Uni, all the way back to being a confused Midwestern teen. Even getting together with the Chief. Our 21 year anniversary is this week and to be honest, I don't remember the actual date because I don't have my journals. The entry I wrote after meeting him again (we had met for the first time the year before) was wonderfully, totally innocent of what would happen in the future. My memory has never been brilliant, so it's amazing to rediscover little titbits I've forgotten: names, events, places, dreams and see how they fall into the bigger picture or disappear in the cracks of time passing.  

But until I get my journals back and my 'old fashioned' photos from before I had a digital camera, here are few throwbacks. 

Our last trip to Lucca in 2005 where we helped with the vendemmia (grape harvest). Pre-kids - those were the days, my friends. 

Mouse and I on his first trip abroad to Norway. Then there was 1.  

A digitally enhanced version of a photo from a non-digital camera. I only have a few photos of this holiday to my brother's wedding because we put our camera down on the beach and it got sand in it and ruined the film. This was over exposed. Oh, the days of film when you couldn't edit as you photographed. 

A photo from MorMor of me. Love the 70s high chair fabric and old style phone cord. I loved to chew on those, even after I finished teething. 
I might do these Throw Back Thursdays posts again. Any excuse to go through old photos and reminisce. 





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