Thursday, August 13, 2015

After summer in Poland, back on track in Finland

Hi! Another summer vacation is over. Fourth since we moved here. In two weeks we will be celebrating our fourth anniversary of coming to Helsinki. Now I have to make up my mind and write about some last events. First - our summer experience. Nothing special, but there were some very nice and pleasant days and also few not so good and worth rethinking before the next summer comes. Second - my job and with that third - our new daily schedule, next step for our little son - everyday day-care. Fourth - about the psychology of raising a happy and calm child and - especially - a happy and calm parent. Fifth - some nostalgic thoughts about the passing time and leaving friends, the instant flow of life, of everything around us. Sixth - I'll try to paste some pictures of the past summer. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

End of the year, begin of vacation


It's pouring from the morning. All day long. It's cold and I mean it - COLD. No more than 12C. And grey and rainy. It was also the last day of day care. For me also quite a busy day. I was working home on my article. Later I had to quickly go and pick up few groceries, because tomorrow and on Saturday shops are closed (Juhannus, the shortest night celebrations) and buy a gift for Wanda's friend for his birthday. I wanted to do this before I had one kid at my side. But the idea of groceries came not only to me this afternoon and so it was a crazy day for shoppers. Luckily I didn't need many things. Bought two bunches of roses and two little fancy chocolates and rushed to day cares. It was kind of a sad moment. And happy in the same time too. But somehow I had tears in my eyes and in my mind that whole year - for Tomek such an important year. I almost saw him going there for the first time, still half a baby, with a diaper and not talking at all. And now I came to pick up a boy, independent, potty-trained for long, talkative, singing and making silly jokes. And Wanda? Not that huge of a change during this year, but still. When I came to her day care I saw that teachers has already changed the badges in a cloakroom and now I saw my dauther's name with a shark picture next to it. Sharks - the oldest and last year group. Buuu... my child is growing so fast. It wasn't that long ago either when I brought her to the day care for the first time, my little girl. For me as a person what does it mean one year or even four years - as this is the time which past.  For her is everything she remembers, all her experiences. I just started to write again. I had a break for almost four years, but actually I feel the same and I don't feel that much difference. Oh, anyway, such a mood I have today, it's because of the weather for sure and all the above circumstances.
But, hey, summer vacation just started!
And I promised to update the midnight view from my window. Here it is, from June 16.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Some spring updates and remarks about Nature


The most obvious sign of spring/summer time is now the length of the day. With our living room and bed rooms windows to the north west we are exposed to all those beautiful and every night later sun sets. It is hard to feel the bed time when you see the sun high up the sky. We have installed in kids room those darkening curtains. We don't have such in our bedroom and so we go to sleep with a full light, but to be honest - I am so exhausted that it doesn't matter. This is a picture taken on the last night of May around midnight. Still three weeks before the shortest night. I will try to make another photo closer to mid-summer night, but usually I am in bed around 11pm. Tonight though my on woke up around 2am, I went to ccheck for him and it was already deep yellow light on the east side or better to say north-east side of the sky and again - light. It still amazes me and makes me remember how far to the north we live. 















But there are also some down-sides of this fact. For example I still wear gloves while riding a bike and the temperatures are still way below 20C even on sunny and warm days. I long for summer heat! I long for wearing a summer dress and not to wear a jumper anymore. This year is really cold even for Finland.
In a meantime I took one short but intensive Finnish course. It was nine days, every day, half a day. The purpose was to activate my language skills and in actually worked quite well. What I didn't like was the teacher, who was sort of absent. I expected her to listen what we are discussing in our small groups and correct us, suggest some better words or sentences. She was only giving us a basic commands what shall we do. So we were talking how each of us was able to making probably many grammatical mistakes. But I think it was still quite a good brain exercise because somehow I pushed myself to speak, to use those few learned words and structures and not to be so timid of using this strange language.
During the last few weeks I was searching for job, writing some applications, searching for some good contacts and maybe, maybe there will be something interesting to do. I hope so. So it might be that soon I will be again a very busy person. I'm already excited.
On the weekends we are exploring our Espoo. Last time we took kids and biked to the Espoonpuisto - The Espoo Central Park, which opens just behind Suurpelto and is actually a wild forest, beautiful at this time of the year. We made a picnic on a shore of a tiny lake in the woods. Sunny, lazy Sunday. Kids were so happy to walk together holding hands hiding behind trees, exploring nature.



We spend too much time indoors which makes them to feel bored, to ask constantly for iPad, to fight about every little thing.



When we take them somewhere to the nature, they suddenly transform into best buddies, happy and relaxed. Recently I was reading about all the research made on the positive effects of spending time in the forest. It came to me when I was looking through my window and watch the construction site. Right behind it there is a beautiful view of a iddillic country side - an old farm house, a stable, fields and forest. And now day after day it disappears from my eyes because they build there a new apartment building. Sad.



I have this longing for living closer to nature. I chose for summer vacation an old country house located in a forested land in southern Poland - Roztocze - you can check here - Guciow

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Discovering Espoo Car Museum

Since we moved to Espoo, we want to explore little by little what this place has to offer and what is here interesting for kids. After a short search in google last weekend we've found there is a Espoon auto museo - Car Museum. It is located in a north part of Espoo, somewhere in a country side. You drive through a narrow country road along fields and meadows, summer cabins and woods and finally you reach an old  grey stone stable and you GPS tells you you've reached the place. Outside two men were repairing an old-fashion motorcycle. Inside at the "ticket point" sit an old fat lady selling tickets, 6 euros per adult and three per child. Our 2,5 years old also had to pay. Oh, and they take only cash. But stepping inside you would be very much surprised by what a collection you're going to see. From their website you can read there is about hundred cars, as many motorbikes and bikes and many other everyday life items. And that is truth. The impression is one of a kind. You walk into that old stable, open the door and you are welcomed by two long and tightly packed rows of very old automobiles. Oldest are about one hundred years old, there are also many from the 20. and 30. XX century, those resembling Great Gatsby car. Then comes many from the 50. and 60. and so on.

this is the second floor, on the first were oldest cars



You could see old fire-trucks, kids toy-cars, the whole collection of cars from my early childhood - funny, some of them like an old Wartburg I remember from the streets in Poland in early 80.



their favorites!

You could also see those micro-cars, tiny and cute and actually very modern in design and would be very practical in today's crowded cities.



This museum is one of a kind, because it feels like it was made by automobile's enthusiasts, hobbyists. It is a huge collection, maybe even crowded - for today's modern museums standards, but it has it's atmosphere. And it is an excellent place for kids, because they can really explore it, search every nook and cranny, come very close to every car - the only thing bad - they are not allowed to touch them, but if they touch... well, nothing happens.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Who's an Espoonian?

One of my readers asked this question. Well, I will try to answer it according to my knowledge and what local people say and - what are kind of stereotypes. Basically like with everything - it depends. It depends on where in the metropolitan area you are coming from. For example if you happen to be a downtown hipster living in Punavuori, Hakaniemi, Töölö, or from one of the most posh places like Eira or Kruununhaka, most probably you even don't bother to think about those Espoonians and maybe you look at them with a slightly ironic smile. Those suburbians, depending on their cars, mowing their backyards, or maybe more often snow-shoveling the community road taking turns with their neighbors. Families with kids, doing weekly groceries in shopping malls, hardly ever visiting museums or theaters. And definitely not sipping their espresso in a corner cafe. But Espoonians themselves think about their place and lifestyle much more positive. They are better of, they own nice houses in green and quiet areas, they enjoy this outdoor lifestyle and they claim, they wouldn't change for a city dwelling. Maybe. Oh, and of course they think they are much better than Eastern Helsinki residents. According to the locals that part of the city is the least wanted. Those old working class neighborhoods like Kontula, our old Myllypuro or Itakeskus, now full of immigrants, which doesn't add the good reputation. But of course all of the above are just silly stereotypes and I am trying to be far from judging. It is good in a sense to be an outsider, an expat who doesn't care so much about what the locals think. But of course what matters is how the life really looks like in the above places. And of course we were quite sick of meeting all those drunkards occupying the metro station in Myllypuro. Espoo is fine, because having small kids it is good to be able to spend time outdoors in nature. And of course as with everything, money is the key. If you cannot afford an apartment in one of the downtown areas, you choose Espoo. And that is that.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Suurpelto-Kamppi by bus

Today in the morning I decided to try the bus connection to downtown Helsinki. There is a direct bus and our bus stop is located about 200 meters from our house. Perfect. I took the kids and - off we go! They were so excited! Before we hardly used buses having metro or trams going to day cares or downtown. So the whole trip went very smoothly, although it takes half an hour. But actually in the morning rush hours, when all the cars are stuck in a traffic, all the buses go fast on their own lane. The bus wasn't crowded, we were sitting comfortably. Nothing to complain about. So in case of time it is the same. And what fun for the kids ;) And saving money for me, if we are taking a stroller with us. My old and worn out stroller doesn't have working brakes, but in the buses there is a quite clever solution to keep the carriages in place. There are little hooks assembled to poles, so you can hook your stroller.

Today while freezing outside (it's about 8C and icy cold strong wind, more like November weather, not May) I noticed all those ads on bus stops. The ads mostly from H&M and other clothes brands. What do they show? Half naked, nicely tanned girls in bikinis or lovely summer dresses running happily on a beach. Brrr.... Even from looking at them I was getting cold, covering myself with a warm scarf and wearing winter gloves and a hat. The globalization in fashion brands is sometimes almost ridiculous. The spring/summer collection comes to Finnish shops in March, when all the country is either covered in snow or if not snow, then still below zero temperatures. You rather are looking for another pair of winter shoes or a new overall for your growing kid, but instead you can buy brand new ballerinas in all the colors of the rainbow or a cute summer dress. Crazy. But anyway, hot tee will warm me up.  

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Becoming an Espoonian

Yes. Now it is official. We've become Espoonians. For more than a week we are living in our new apartment. And in many ways it is actually better than I thought. The apartment itself is nicer. It is actually quite spacious, now I think better planned than the previous one. The best thing is the big kids room, fitting both beds and all the toys. I like the east side kitchen window - good to have the morning sun while you get up to make your coffee. I like also the north-west living-room and bed-rooms windows - although before we moved here I thought about it as a disadvantage. But now it's actually quite nice to look at the sun set. As for now we also have a nice view, because all the quarters around our building are still empty. There are some meadows and some ground water with ducks and birds happily living there. In a few years we will be surrounded by other apartment blocks, but hopefully not so soon. On Saturday we made a bike trip around the area and it looks very much like a country side. Fields, small paths, meadows, forest. And of course the top thing is that Angry Birds playpark right behind our building. My kids are becoming little monkeys while going there, running and jumping and sliding all the equipments. What is I don't like? Using the car too much. It is now every day commuting and it means being in a traffic jam. Of course it's not an enormous traffic jam. It means usually driving for about 30 minutes instead of 17, but still. I have to try the bus connection and use it time to time, especially on those days I am with my son (who is still using a stroller, so I have a free ride with him). So it looks like we've made everything for our kids. Our daughter's school is no more than 500 meters from our house and we can see it from the living-room windows. The already mentioned Angry Birds park. For our son of course all the construction sites around. The first thing he does after he wakes up is checking what is going on there. "The crane is moving!" - he exclaims. "A new truck is going there! Mommy look!" - with so much of excitement. The nature and fresh air. But, when the kids are happy, so are the parents, right? I hope so :-). 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Moving

Only few days left. Only few more times I will travel by metro to Myllypuro. Only few nights in this apartment. We are packing. We are moving. Not far though. Only to Espoo. But still feels like a big thing. It's been a long time in here and so I got used to this place. It has some pros and some cons and because of those cons we are moving. But I don't know Espoo at all. To me it was always just a huge suburban neighborhood. Houses  surrounded by forests and highways. Our new place is exactly such. Brand new so we can expect being also surrounded by construction site. But the apartment is nice and comfortable and right behind the house is located big Angry Birds playground.
When you move apartments you have to do certain paper works, like inform about changing the address. Here it is just a piece of cake. You can do it online, service is in English of course, you login via your bank account and you change your data. The new address goes to the post office and to the registration office and for one month without any additional costs all your mail will be forwarded to a new address and all the recipients will get the information about your new place. While registering you can add all the family members. Fast and easy. Actually this online system works for many official matters. You can submit your online application while applying for a place in a municipal day care, or while registering and paying for Finnish courses provided by one of the public adult education institutions or even to make a dental appointment although this last one I haven't check yet.