Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Santa visited us again :)

Unfortunately the weather was awful that Sunday afternoon - grey and rainy... but still we tried to appreciated that special event :)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Candle-light-breakfast-time

This means November. Dark when you wake up, grey when you go out at noon, dark again soon after a midday walk, long looong evenings starting around 4pm. So, the season of candle light breakfast is open now! Everyone's welcome! But every day when I'm driving to pick up Wanda from her school I pass a park - big central park in heart of Helsinki, the one with the Olympic Stadium. And guess what - there are plenty of runners, joggers and bikers who seem not to care at all about the weather conditions. It's rainy - so they put some rain coats. It's cold - well, not so if you're running fast enough. It's dark - so what? You can turn a light on on your bike. And so I have to have the same attitude, cause I can not spend all days at home. My baby needs some fresh air and I need some movements. So we also enjoy the weather. The good news? Yes. I still keep smiling, no signs of winter depression. Another cup of coffee anyone? Candle included :)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Mother's moments

It is hard to be a mother of two. And now I'm not talking about taking care itself, cause with that I'm quite well so far. I mean my feelings and feelings of my daughter - this is what has changed since there is another baby at home. Obviously I'm all the time with our baby-boy - nursing or holding him. And for that reasons I can not cuddle Wanda at the same time. And I feel the little baby stays between us. He takes me from my daughter. I want to be as close as I always was with Wanda, but I can not anymore. I do my best, but it is difficult. And the other thing is Wanda now is much more into her father. Now everything is with daddy, daddy this, daddy that, I love you daddy etc. They really have their own world and I am not there. I'm with a baby. And of course it is a beautiful time and best feelings for him but I miss my little Wanda and how it was before the baby was born. It is strange I know. I have to adjust. I think Wanda doesn't feel like that. And maybe it is also this age for a little girl that she becomes daddy's little lady :) It is also so important for her development. So maybe I should be happy that she's not jealous because of having to share mommy's time with the baby, but she simply more and more enjoys her time with daddy. I think it is hardest for me to adjust and to learn my new role - being a mom of two and having my love for the two and sharing me and my time among them.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Fulfillment

Last Saturday while sitting with my parents, my husband and the kids in Kappeli cafe in the Esplanadi Park I had suddenly those thoughts. I'm done with pregnancies. I don't have to plan another child and when would be the right time for that and how to organize everything and how many more years I do have to make a baby etc. I already have my complete family and there won't be any more morning sickness, no more growing belly, no more all the other not that great symptoms of being pregnant. And that was a relief. That was such a nice, calming feeling. Why in that cafe? Because I remember being there with my sister who came to help me in late February (while I was struggling with the morning sickness and horrible mood) and we went there to celebrate my birthday. And I remember that I still didn't feel well and was not in a mood. And later I was there with my sister and my cousin and after I ate a cake I felt so horribly full and big. And than again in May I was there with my mom and with my quite a big belly. But than suddenly last Saturday I felt so well, my baby was asleep in his stroller and my daughter was happy eating her piece of cake and I felt like "I don't have to do anything more". That's a beautiful feeling. Now I only have to lose those couple of kilograms, but that's a piece of cake. Well, maybe better without that piece of cake ;) anyway...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Day by day

What should I write? During the last three weeks nothing special has happened. Day after day looks same. Night after night I am more and more tired - this is the only difference. My new routine is now nursing and nursing and then nursing some more. Cuddling and cuddling and then trying to catch up with some sleep myself. Yes, the nights are hard and I really forgot how it was with our first one. You forget it so fast! And now again the same and the bad news is it won't change for the next 12 months... I don't know, but maybe I'm too old for that already. I'd love to go out for long walks but the weather this year is so bad. It's cold (now usually no more than 5 to 7C) it's rainy - dark and grey all the time for the whole month. Crazy! But of course I enjoy all the time I spend with my little baby, who is growing so fast. Every afternoon I pack him to the car and we go to pick up Wanda from her daycare. She's so proud of having a baby brother. And she's such a great girl. She's so smart and so clever. Her English is now fantastic. And she learns some Finnish too. She can already count up to ten. So, yes, not much to say just my simple mother's life. But I enjoy it.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

It's different

In any sense of those words it is different. When I compare how were my feelings towards Wanda after she was born and how are they now. With Wanda I was in a euphoric state, my state of mind was pure happiness, I felt like I was not walking any more but flying overwhelmed with total joy. But soon after came stress about everything I was doing with her - what does that crying mean, should I do this or that - and to find answers I was rushing to my books like "The happiest baby on the block" or on the other pole of the scale Tracy Hogg Baby Book. And I was frustrated because my baby didn't work like babies in the books. And now is different. I'm so totally calm and relaxed so far. I trust myself, my intuition and my love. I don't rush to any books. I'm enjoying the moments having my baby on my belly. I just follow him and myself. And it makes me feel good. But also I don't have that euphoria. It doesn't mean my joy and love is any less than with Wanda. No, it is just very different. I feel so peaceful. I feel that our family is so complete now. I love this tiny creature - this tiny miracle of life. I enjoy every minute with him. I'm so happy but in a calm and peaceful way. Different are also the objective conditions. The standard of life we have here comparing to the one in the States. It makes a huge difference. When our daughter was born it was mid July in New Jersey. If any of you is familiar with the weather conditions out there knows that it is usually 35C and very humid and no wind and no clouds at all. And we had a poor AC so in our apartment was hot and unpleasant. The AC working full time made that horrible noise. It was impossible to take the baby outside cause any later than 6 AM it was too hot already. So for the first month I was literary stuck in our bedroom. And now we have very nice and comfy apartment, the weather is like you can see - cool, but it's October already. I have everything I need for me and the baby, my husband has two weeks of paternal leave and he's relaxed too. So, anyway it's just this good feeling that everything is all right and right on time and in a right place.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Welcome on board

And so the new chapter in our life has already begun. And it began right on time. Our tiny son came to this world exactly as it was said: on September 29 at 0.54 AM. This is just the Finnish way, they don't like to be late. So, how it was? As I mentioned in my previous post the waters broke on Friday very early in the morning, sometime between 5 and 6 AM. But I felt fine, no contractions yet. So the day started as usual. My husband took Wanda to her daycare and he went to work. But I felt not as usual. I was already so excited and happy that it finally started. And of course I've got this crazy energy for cleaning the house. I cleaned the bathrooms but stopped myself from vacuuming and other house chores. Instead I played my relaxation CD and fell asleep with it as usual. I was jumping on my ball. I called my sister and my mom. And some light contractions started. They were about 20 minutes apart and quite light, so I proudly made what I've learned during my HypnoBirthing classes, that is those long and slow breathing. And I waited what's next. I called the hospital and they said if nothing would changed I should show up at 5 PM, that is after 12 hours from the breaking of waters so they can check if everything is fine. We went all together with Wanda. They took us to a room where they could monitor the baby's heart rate. It took two hours and actually during that time my contractions started to be quite uncomfortable, intense and even quite painful and with a frequency of 10 minutes. So, around 7.30 PM the midwife asked if I want to go back home or stay there. We decided it will be easier if I stay there. So Adam and Wanda went home and I stayed in a room and waited what's next. After an hour the contractions were painful and around 9.30 PM they started to be more frequent, about 5 minutes apart. So after having them for 50 minutes I told about them the midwife and she said it's time to move to the delivery room. Another midwife, who stayed with me for my whole labor welcomed me there at around 10.40 PM. She gave me the ball, she brought me a warm pillow and put it to my back, she made a dim light and was very nice, asking what she can do for me. So first I was sitting on a ball and on a rocking chair and I still could do my slow and relaxing breathing during the contractions. But with every one which came next it was harder and harder to be up and so I lay down on a bed with that warm pillow and I still tried to be as calm as possible and relaxed. But I couldn't anymore because they started to be very painful. It started to be sort of a fight with every contraction and waiting for it to go away. My midwife asked, if I need any painkiller. First I said no, I can stand it. But after some time I asked for the laughing gas. I don't know if it was of any help, but at least I had something distracting to do, when I felt that the next contraction is coming. So I was breathing this funny air through the mask harder and harder. And I was no more relaxed and I couldn't think about my easy and gentle birth. I was in terrible pain and I had even the feeling of fear how much more I could stand and that I want it over. I don't know what time it was, probably around midnight when my midwife asked me again if I need any stronger painkiller and that the only thing is actually epidural. I said between contractions that I try to withstand from that, I try for some more time. She checked me and I was dilated 6 cm. The contractions were stronger and stronger, and still more frequent. I was gasping the gas like crazy, although it didn't seem to make the pain any lesser. Soon after that I started to have the urge to push and it was even harder to stand. I felt like my all inner organs are going to go out. She checked again - 9 cm. She said, good, it's going to be soon, you are doing great, good job, push, when you feel like doing that. But than she asked me to go on all four because the baby's heart rate is going down. She said it will help the baby. But being on all four during the contractions was almost impossible for me, cause I just didn't have enough power in my legs and arms. I was falling down on a bed. And than suddenly some other people came to the room, a midwife and a doctor. My midwife said they will help me, cause the baby should be born very soon. And that they have to use the vacuum. At that moment I was like in a different world, all overwhelmed with myself and my body and my pain and the only thing I wanted - I wanted to be done with that. And I pushed down, now screaming and crying "I can't any more! Can't stand it!!!!" but I could somehow, gasping the gas, not thinking, feeling that incredible pain and wanted to be over. They supported me: you can do it, it's almost over. It took maybe couple of minutes but I thought it's forever. I heard voices: just one more push, push when you are ready, when you have the contraction, push as much as you can, yes, good job. And than I felt that most incredible and most painful feeling ever when the baby's head was going through the birth canal. I thought it's my end, that this will tear my body apart into two. But it didn't. And instead after a moment the baby was outside. And I was trembling, shaking. My whole body was shaking like crazy, every muscle. And I've got him to my belly. Happy I guess, but at that moment I couldn't say what I felt. Most probably I could call it a release. A big "uff" and "that was that" sort of thoughts. I was lying on that bed calmly and so was my baby. Only when everything was over they told me the heart rate fell to just 50 bits per minute and that's why they had to make it as fast as possible although I was actually ready myself, so they only made sure there won't be any complications. Soon all the doctors left saying congratulations and I stayed again only with my midwife, who again had turned the lights off. She helped me to birth the placenta, she made some stitches and after all was done she just gave me my time with my precious newborn baby. We were lying there for two hours without any interruptions. I called my husband, actually I did it immediately after giving birth, like ten minutes after the baby was born. He was so proud of me. And ah, well, the new life was born. The new story has already begun. And you know what? Not long ago I had those thoughts about loving my second child and how it will be. There are no second thoughts any more. I'm totally in love with him, he's so cute and lovely and I have tons of love for him. And I still have the same love for Wanda as I had always before. There that was born not only a new child but also together with him new huge love. And this is a miracle of life. Now we are really a complete family.

Friday, September 28, 2012

This is THE DAY

It already started this very early morning. I'm still at home, but we are suppose to go to the hospital by 5pm or earlier, if I will have strong contractions. Well, the new chapter in my life is just beginning. I'm excited, happy and relaxed. Wish me good luck!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Taking a deep breath

I'm preparing myself for the Big Day. It's 39 weeks now. I just finished my birth prep classes which was a HypnoBirthing Method. Have you ever heard of that? It is based on notion that giving birth should be easy, gentle and relaxed. It is focusing on breathing - long, deep and relaxing which help you to relax your mind and body. In this approach they don't say about harshness of giving birth, they don't use the word "pain". It is about having good affirmations about that amazing event. And I like it. I had three meetings with a lovely woman Awital Zingg-Bollag, who teaches those courses in Helsinki. So for some weeks now I'm doing almost every day a relaxation session with a CD. I've never done it before and was rather reluctant doing this, but it is really a great thing to try. At the beginning it's not so easy to turn all your awareness towards your breathing and turn off all your thoughts and just relax. But if you manage it, it makes you feel so well. Sometimes I simply fall asleep before the session ends and it is a good sign - it means I made myself so relax that my mind just drifted away to a stage of sleep. Those relaxations I'm suppose to make during my labor. We'll see how it will work :) Another thing I'm doing are prenatal yoga classes. Sometimes they are very nice with exercises suitable for me, but yesterday they were a bit boring. Also I saw the hospital and had a tour around the maternity ward. And I like it here. I like the whole attitude towards birth. They focus on all the natural methods, they want to give you the opportunity to feel comfortable and like at home, with your music, dim light and freedom to chose whatever position you'd wish to have for giving birth. They give you the newborn baby to your breast and let him stay there for at least an hour or more, they encourage you to co-sleep with the baby and to body to body contact for as much of the time as possible. And this is so different from what I remember from the States. In the hospital I gave birth to Wanda all they talked was how many TV channels are in the room, that the babies can stay in a nursery so the new mother can rest and enjoy being pampered with delicious menu and comfy single room. OK, the rooms were indeed very comfortable but now comparing those two different approaches I really prefer the Finnish way. I'm already excited. I guess I have more energy. Like yesterday afternoon while I was swinging Wanda and it was cold, so I started to jump to make myself warmer. And after a moment I realized I shouldn't do that, I'm pregnant with a huge belly. Are there the first signs of coming labor? Hopefully yes.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Few days to go

Now as much as I can I make those long walks (in hope to make my little son to take a move out of my tummy). I'm tired already of this pregnancy. I cannot sleep. Cannot find a comfy position during the night. Have a heartburn. Feel heavy and clumsy. My belly is huge. And there is still ten days to go. Not that much? Well, yes and no. And it can be much more, who knows. Recently I had a bunch of mixed feelings about being a mother again, having two kids, organizing the life in a new way but keeping the old way as it was. Is this possible at all? Wanda is all the time so positive and excited about her baby brother. This actually helps me a lot. Thanks to her I've developed those warm feelings towards the moving creature inside my womb. Sometimes she plays a baby herself, but mostly she is proud of having a baby brother and taking care of the little one. This is what she says herself. I try never to tell her that soon she will be a big sister and will have to help me. As often as I can I tell her, she will be always my little one, a bit bigger and older than the baby, but for mommy always a little and beloved girl.

Fall in coming... again...

Again, yes, this is the feeling I have. Maybe because we moved here last fall so I have those vivid memories still in my mind. But the true is time flies faster and faster with each year (or I'm getting old...)! Anyway, for some days now I can smell this particular scent of the early fall. What is it precisely? The moist soil, the first falling leaves, the cooler air? I don't know, but it makes me feel a bit melancholic. Yesterday was a gorgeous day so warm and sunny and after Wanda's school we went to a park. And there was that smell of coming fall mixed together with a smell of the sea. And the beautiful warm colored leaves in all the shades of yellow, orange, red and brown. It's still mostly green though, but you can already pick up some colorful leaves. Today on the other hand was raining for a good part of a day, but still we went out (Wanda in her rubber outfit) and enjoyed the freshness of the rainy air.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Ignorance, equality or rudeness?

Yes, those are the questions I ask myself whenever I get on a tram, subway or a bus. Me - 37 weeks pregnant and usually in a company of my three years daughter. In Poland in most cases people occupying seats would immediately stand up and ask me to sit with my child or if I'm by myself they would in most cases offer me a seat. In Finland, such a friendly and kids oriented country, no one ever even think about such a possibility. Like today. It was afternoon and we were going back from a daycare. We got on the tram which was quite crowded as for Helsinki standards. We stand just next to a sitting guy - middle aged, very nicely dressed, who only looked at us briefly and was sitting without any thoughts, that maybe it is not fair, that a little girl has to stand on a moving vehicle with her very much pregnant mother. In Poland such behavior is considered simply rude. This is our culture and this is how I feel. How is it in Finland? I don't know. But maybe here women made such a feminist revolution, that it would be considered rude to let a pregnant woman rest and let her sit down with her baby or small child? Does that mean Finnish way of equality? I'd be happy to hear how such situations are seen in your countries. Give me some feedback! :)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Aniversary

It's a year already! One whole year in Helsinki. Time flies I'd say. It wasn't long or I'm getting older and time seems to go faster and faster. But anyway I guess it was a very good year. And quite an easy one. It was definitely easier then our first year in the States (now that seems to me like being zillions of years ago). Any special thoughts? Not really. It's just life, simple life, a good and comfy life so far. With couple of friends, with a nice daycare for Wanda, with almost done pregnancy (!!!), a nice apartment and a nice, calm and steady marriage. It's our life in this country without knowing the language and to be honest not doing anything to learn at least something. It's our daughter who becomes with each day better and better with her English fluency. And I'm so proud of her. It's my life with a very warm attitude towards the city and country as a whole. Even to the weather! :) And I'm going to enjoy it for the next year and as long as we will be Finnish residents. Cheers!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Summer in the city

Yes, it came! Summer! It's so beautiful - warm and sunny and I enjoy those warm days more than ever since this year even summer in Poland was awful. And what do we do with this great weather? We went to an outdoor swimming pool. It's a cool place for a nice family day or just mom plus kid day. The pool in a part of the Olympic Stadium that is it was build for the Olympics held in Helsinki in 1952. And it means the whole area is in this old-school style. There is a big tower with a trampoline and a clock - a view resembling pictures from American movies from the 50s. And the surroundings - an old park, so lots of trees and those huge rocks "growing" from the ground. First time I took there Wanda about two weeks ago and today we went there again. She was quite tired after her daycare, but when you have 24C and no single cloud on the sky you don't want to head home in the afternoon. So we went refresh in a warm water. Yes, the water there is nice and warm - it's heated. And Wanda can already swim by herself (I mean of course wearing the water wings). Anyway, if you ever have a chance visit the place.

Friday, August 10, 2012

My broken heart...

After the first two perfect days in a day care there came a drawback. When I came Wednesday afternoon she bursted out crying and yes, her teacher said, she was missing me. Thursday she was still very happy in the morning and on our way, but started to cry when we got there. I left her crying with my heart totally broken and cried myself after I left the place. That was such a stressful day! I came earlier, she was sad for the first couple of minutes. It must be stress for her too. She woke up late in the evening crying and came to my bed. In the morning she said she doesn't like the daycare anymore and wants to stay with me and go for a walk with me. I was fighting myself to keep cheerful mood and encourage her to dress and get ready. But when we came there it was same as yesterday. Tough time for her and for me too. And those questions in my mind, do I make the right thing? I'll pick her up earlier today and I thing I will do this for the next week so she can easier adjust to the new schedule. It's just a long day for her and all of a sudden a huge change in her life. I love her so much.

Monday, August 6, 2012

My big girl in a day care

The new school year has already started. Today it was Wanda's first day after the summer vacation in her day care. I was almost sure she will get along fine since she knows the place and the teachers and some of the kids. But as every mother I was little concerned if everything would really go well. And it went perfectly well. Already yesterday during breakfast she said she wants to the day care. Today she woke up in a great mood and was excited while I was preparing a lunch box for her. She was so calm and relaxed all the way and she went to the place like there won't be any summer break. The teachers Xenia and Milla welcomed her with a huge smile and hugs and warm words. This is another nice thing - they are the same teachers she had last year, so basicaly nothing changed. And after just couple of minutes I left Wanda who was already busy with some toys. She gave me a kiss and I left. I was surprised it went so smoothly. I felt weird sort of that she let me go just like that. I was a little bit sad to be honest, that I'm leaving her for a whole day. I know me crazy mom! And when I came to pick her up all the group was playing in a park. Wanda welcomed me with a big and happy smile and her loving eyes. And she said she liked the day. Her teacher told me she was so proud of Wanda and I was so so proud of my beloved little daughter. Now I will have so much time only for myself! For the first time in the last three years! And for the last time in the coming at least two or again three years... I wonder when I start to miss Wanda and to want her at home :)

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Back in town!

OK, vacation is over and it doesn't make me feel sad or melancholic. To the contrary - as always I'm so happy to be back home, in our own place, on my own sofa, in my own kitchen. What did I do during the summer? First we went to my family town - Gdansk for two weeks. And it could have been great if not for the November kind of weather. For most of the days it was too cold, too windy and too rainy to even go out for a walk not to mention a beach. But at least my daughter has spent some creative time with her two older cousins. After that I had couple of days to rest in Helsinki and to welcome our friends from Copenhagen and after that we've made a heroic trip by car (on a ferry) to visit my in-laws in southern Poland. Another two weeks. And yes, it was again important for Wanda, but I'd prefer a week in an exotic place in a hotel or wherever to have a real vacation. I don't know, maybe it is something wrong with me, but staying by family members makes me tired and irritated. And I feel relief whenever I'm back home - my home. Is this already a "becoming a Finn" syndrome? Just kidding! But Wanda feels similar. She was happy visiting her grandparents, but she was constantly asking to go back to Helsinki to her room, to her home. Maybe it is a good sign. It means we feel good with each other, as our small family, we don't need to fly away somewhere to escape from our routine. No. The routine is good, the life is good and happy and while away from it we simply miss it. And so those are the last days of summer vacation. Monday morning Wanda starts her new school year in a day care. Big Day is coming. And even a Bigger day will come in two months. My belly is growing fast... I'll keep posted.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Maternity package from KELA

Today I had my appointment with a nurse, who besides checking if everything goes fine with me and a baby also gave me a signed paper which will allow me to sign for a maternity allowance. It was for me not that obvious, that I can apply for it, cause I've never worked in Finland. But here it is not related with employment. I think if you do work you can get more money, I will get a minimum sum, but still. And it comes together with a maternity package. So you can choose either a package or money, but when I looked what they offer in that package I didn't have any doubts, what is a better option. Look here. And because this year Helsinki is a World Design Capital, the box itself will come with a picture, which won the design competition, look here. The maternity package is something really cool and unique in the world and it has a long history in Finland. It started in 1930 and was intended for the lower income parents, but after the second world war, when, well, first of all it was shortage of everything and second so many men died and there were plenty of single moms, it was extended to all mothers.

The "why?" question

It started just recently. Wanda wants to now "why?" About basically everything she sees around her. Like yesterday when we went to a nice park on an island (Tervasaari). To get to the island you have to walk along the little marina - now full packed with boats. So she saw the people around those boats. "Why they are standing over there?" "Because they probably want to get to their boat." "Why?" "Maybe they want to have a ride, go to the see." "Why?" "The weather is so nice and they enjoy spending time on their boat". OK, she's watching them, than she sees a lady walking on a pier. "Why is she walking there?" She sees people lying on a lawn. "Why do they lie there?" She sees a dog's playground and there are some huge wooden dog statues. "Why there are those dogs?" And so forth. Sometimes it's fun to answer her questions, but sometimes I feel I get lost and I feel a lack of more explanations or just no more creativity in finding a quick and simple but still sufficient answer. Oh, and she found her old book "The very hungry caterpillar". She used to love this book, but we didn't read it for ages. So I started to read it to her. "In the night in the moonlight a little egg was lying on a leaf" (this is just my not accurate translation form my Polish version of the book, sorry for any errors). And my little daughter immediately asked: "Why?" "Why what honey?" "Why is was lying on that leaf?" "Hm, good question, I don't know actually, where the egg came from and how it got to that leaf, they don't tell us this fact in the book, but let's read what's next". The caterpillar is very hungry and eats constantly. On Monday he ate one apple, but he was still hungry. "Why?" "Because...." etc. etc. It was really funny to read the book now, cause I realized that this book is definitely for younger kids. My girl is already too smart to take such facts for granted :) And it's cool that we can now really discuss things. Another curious period just started!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

White Nights in Helsinki

Now we go. No one can beat us! :) If you remember my gloomy mood in December from not having sunlight at all, now you can be sure I have plenty of it now. As for today the official sunrise and sunset times are as follows: 3.56 and 22.45. Unfortunately I don't have many opportunities to enjoy those long days, but it's weird to go to bed when it's light outside. Yesterday I went to town to meet with my friend and it was also quite a funny feeling: going out for a drink (non-alcoholic in my case) and going back home while the sun was still quite high on a horizon. But it's beautiful! And if you have a chance go to Helsinki in June, but don't forget a wind- and rainproof jacket! :)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

appreciating my simple life

Yes, appreciating and no complaining what we have in our life. What I've got in my life now. Couple days ago I thought about spending some time by my parents, in Gdansk, in their apartment. And the only thing I was thinking about was the memory from the last year, when I couldn't sleep through the night only because of the horrible noise coming from the early hours from outside. And from the heat in the room, cause the windows are to the East. So, either I had noise and sleepless night but some fresh air or I had the heat and a little bit of quiet time. And my problems with falling asleep cause some drunkards were screaming outside coming back from the party. And the traffic jam all around the city, so wherever you want to go it takes you forever and it's impossible to be on time. And today in the morning my husband said if I remember Old Delhi and the atmosphere there. Oh yeah, I do remember very well, but I guess in a totally different context then he does. Because whenever I think about that place and whole Delhi in general, I think how hard the life there is, how hard it must be for women like me. With the noise, with the crowd, with the heat all year round. And when I compare my quiet, safe and comfy life here in Helsinki, I'm really happy to be here and now. I think how high is the standard of living in this country, how easy and uncomplicated the life is. You don't have to be extremely rich to have this high living standard, to have nice and quiet apartment and nice neighbors. And still I'm talking about living not in the best and most expensive part of the town. Of course you have in Finland such incidents as the shooting in Hyvinkaa (a small town near Helsinki), what was so horrible and sad but still the Finnish citizens consider themselves very happy and Finland was ranked recently the second happiest country in the world (first is Denmark - no wonder actually). So, if I complain on the cold weather or snow in April or +10C in June it is just to say something and not to be all the time so ridiculously joyful and too American :). And it is also for the people in Poland (tongue in cheek), who just need to complain all the time about everything (and especially how poor they are).

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A day on an island

Last weekend was unbelievably warm. Perfect weather for a whole day picnic. My mum visited us for a weekend, my husband was away on a conference and so I decided to go for a trip. Short trip. And I found a wonderful place, especially magical at this part of a year. Uunisaari and Harakka. Tiny islands just couple hundreds meters from a mainland and the southern marina in the heart of Helsinki. So we packed our picnic, that is some oranges and bananas and water and off we go! The boat goes to Uunisaari (3,50 euro round trip) and you can walk along that island and cross to the other one on a tiny bridge. It's green and rocky and the most amazing thing there were the nesting birds. This is actually why I wanted to go there, cause I've read in SixDegrees that it is a great place for bird watching. And it is indeed. At this part of the year the birds are nesting and they just sit on a grass, I mean they do have sort of nests, but they are set up on the ground and not hidden from humans eyes. They sit literally steps from the path people use for walking. And they look so calm and relaxed. And there weren't that many people, so I guess they can feel safe. So the females were sitting on eggs and around each female there was a male watching around and keeping his eye on any potential danger. There were some sort of geese (I don't know the name) and seagulls mostly but we also saw a swam couple. Beautiful and amazing. Wanda was so happy to see that many birds and also some offspring. She was jumping around on the rocks and splashing water in the tiny ponds. I wasn't in charge of taking pictures, but there is just couple to show you the atmosphere. We had our first summer day in Helsinki.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

wondering about a future job...

Last days there are coming to me thoughts about what kind of job could I make in Finland after my second child will reach the age of a day care. I know, I still have pretty much time, but as we all know time flies like crazy and those two to three years will just go by like an express train. That thought came to me last Friday while I was chatting with a mom in Wanda's day care. She's the bread winner, she's Finn and her husband, a Canadian, is a staying at home dad (for three years now) and he has difficulties to find a job in Finland. I didn't ask what is his profession, but she mentioned that time to time he does some freelance job from home. But in any case I think he's still better of than me, cause he is a native English speaker with some Finnish too. And my English is so-so, I mean on a professional level, that is I don't think it is good enough to write a good article for Helsinki Times and my Finnish is literally zero. And what else than writing can I do? Of course a physical work, but maybe it's not necessarily what I'd love to do... I'm not sure if I want to go back to what I did for all those years in the States, that is writing for Polish newspapers and magazines. And why not? Cause I'd love to go out to work and not being stick at home all day long seeing only my laptop. That was OK years ago, when there were no kids at home and we both were working like crazy 24/7 and home was actually partly an office. But not any more. It's not a working environment (with toys, laundry and dinner around) and I really would like to have a possibility to dress nicely and see other people. And I know that all the mothers know exactly what I mean. But besides that there is also the money aspect. To have a decent salary for Finnish standards and earning that money in Poland as a freelance journalist is almost impossible. I mean I should've been able to write four to five really big and deep articles a month. Regularly, every month and this is for very good paying publishers, for others probably even eight. Being a mother of two at the same time not quite possible I guess. And that would be like killing myself only to make a living. Worth it or not? Now I think I should have taken some writing classes while living in the States. The university was there, I was on campus almost every day. And I didn't make an advantage of it. I know, I was busy working, but that was the right time to learn something new. And instead my English grammar and vocabulary are horrible. It's not a journalistic level. And it probably never will be. But still I hope during the coming years I will come up to some ideas. I'm usually optimistic about my job. I wonder what other people like me managed to do. Didn't make much research on that, but maybe I should. And there is always a possibility to write a book :) Anyway, have a beautiful day.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

enjoy the spring

And so days are longer and longer (it's getting dark around 10pm now), warmer and warmer too (today +16C!). Birds are singing, green grass is growing, new leaves are coming. Only quite late. But it doesn't matter any more, cause I'm so happy for this year spring like for a very precious and long awaiting gift. We spend most days playing outside. Wanda is doing great on her balance bike. She loves to ride it. But I'm surprised that they are not popular in Finland, or at least not in our neighborhood. Here all the small kids are riding those ridiculous 4-wheels bikes usually with a long stick at the back pushing by their parents. Many of the kids don't even bother to pedal! Does it make any sense at all? Anyway, I've met a nice girl who lives in the same building as we. She's German, but lives here for years and is fluent in Finnish, she's actually a Finnish language teacher. And her husband, a Finn - what a rare thing - is a Polish translator. She asked me about a day care, about taking Finnish classes and well, every time I hear those questions I feel being put in an awkward situation. I feel almost guilty for not going Suomi yet. I feel like people expect me to learn Finnish or to put my child in a regular Finnish day care. I guess once or twice I've even heard why didn't I decide for a Finnish day care. And people used to say, but there are so many possibilities to take language classes. I know it. I do know. But still I'm not ready for them. I don't have time - first of all. I even don't have time to take prenatal yoga classes. Second - I'm still quite new here and I don't feel yet that I belong to this place, to this country with its language and culture. Third - as for the day care, we decided not to change anything for Wanda, cause she will have enough changes at home with the new baby. And besides, I really like her to pick up so many English words, phrase, songs.

Taxes

There are some pros and cons about Finnish tax system. Cons are they are pretty high, which means you earn gross a nice sum of money, but a real amount landing to your bank account doesn't make you that happy. Basically they cut out well over 30 percent. But this is at least for a reason and you can see the benefits quite often. For example I had a doctor appointment recently. A control visit. And the thing was that particular doctor doesn't speak English, but she has arranged a translator for me. So here came a lady who was translating simultaneously. And this is for free. And this is, what I've learned, my right to ask for such a person in similar situations, for example if I don't understand teachers from my kids day care or school. Cool. Other pros are of course all those KELA services that is the benefits I get as a stay at home mom or what we will apply for the next year - a private day care allowance. But another maybe small but nice thing is the tax office actually makes all the taxes for you and sends you a ready to sign papers. So your only duty is to check if you agree and put your signature on it and send back. Cool, right!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I was in India for a trip

It's really a shame I'm not posting for such a long time. But right after Easter we went for a trip to India - friends wedding and came back just couple days ago. Well, when we were leaving at the front of our house there was still lots of snow and was close to 0 C. But after just nine days it was beautiful spring air and sun what has welcomed us at the Helsinki airport. Nice surprise. I'm so delightful of this spring. I guess much more than ever before, maybe because I was waiting so long for it to come. Now, just couple words about India. It's a total opposite to Finland in whatever aspect of life you think and want to compare. Everything. First - weather. It was barely 38-40 C, at least in Delhi was not humid, that is it was bearable for us. Second - number of people. Can you imagine in Delhi live 17 million people? And you can see it. Everywhere is crowded. On a subway, on streets, bazaars. People, people, people. Noise - it is noisy, horribly noisy form the never ending crowd, from the never ending traffic, loud talking, music. Colors - Finland is sort of grey (or white in winter), India is full of colors, sometimes it's overwhelming, but usually it's just beautiful. Clothes - those sarees look so nice and elegant, even simple ones, everyday ones, but women wearing them look very feminine. I have to admit we don't look that pretty in our jeans and T-shirts. Whenever I saw there Indian and Western tourists I could compare how the women looked like. The Westerners wearing shapeless T-shirts and knee long pants, plus sneakers, usually a bit overweight didn't look like ladies. To the contrary Indian women woven in those colorful sarees were always elegant. But it is only our fault, how we dress, cause we also could look feminine. We do have nice summer dresses, don't we? Chaos - it's hard to imagine more chaotic traffic than that in Delhi. Cars, motorikshas, bikes, pedestrians - everyone everywhere without any order, no rules other than "blow your horn" and the bigger you are, the better. On a first day I thought I won't get to the hotel alive, but later I simply relaxed and didn't care. I trusted the drivers and their intuition. There isn't many accidents though. I saw just one and not a serious one on a road to Agra. But wit such an intensive traffic you would expect much more. Contrasts - the poor and the rich. Coming from an egalitarian country, social and rich it's hard to stay calm and watch how the rich and the poor live somehow together, or better to say next to the other. Our friends were from the richest side and they actually know pretty few about a life of the poor. But go to Old Delhi and you see the crowd on those narrow streets, filthy old, old, old and devastated buildings, that noise and that dust. Those people trying to meet ends doing those jobs like driving a riksha or selling melons or just old coins, those barefoot kids - oh, that was for me the hardest experience. I cannot look at those kids cause I cannot stop my heart from being broken. But what can I do? I won't save them. But I had some moments of deep sorrow and tears running from my eyes. I couldn't stop thinking how lucky we are and our little daughter, who has everything. India is an open-minding experience. It surely is. And I think we all living in one of the richest country of the world and also mostly coming from rich and well developed countries should appreciate what we have.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

My first white... Easter is on its way

No, I didn't take it from any dusted archive of old Christmas photos. I took it some 10 minutes ago only to share with you the current view from my livingroom's window. Yes, we've got brand new snow Monday morning and yes it is not something newspapers write about on their front pages. This is, eghm... normal. I wonder though if that Christmas tree will stay here till 2012 Santa season. Anyway, meanwhile I've got a cold and I feel really bad sneezing and coughing. Wanda same. My husband came back earlier today so I could take an afternoon nap. No energy, nothing. We really need some warm weather! And before we got sick we were killing time making art! Yes, art ;) Hand and feet painting and hand- and foot-prints and actually the whole body painting as you can clearly see below:
it's a messy fun :)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Waiting...

... and waiting. And waiting. For S-P-R-I-N-G to come. This year the first warm days came so early all over the Europe - at least this is what we've heard from families, friends and other people living southern from Finland. But here winter still rules. Looking through the windows from our apartment I can see only snow. In a front of the building there is a little hill - all made from snow (otherwise the surface is flat) and the playground covered with a thick snowy blanket. Wanda loves to play there, climbing that hill and sliding down. Cool! But maybe not necessarily by the end of March. At least for me. And in the middle of this white snowy yard there is still a X-mass tree standing proud just two weeks before Easter. I wonder if someone will remove it before we start coloring eggs... This weekend we've got another little wintery gift - a new snow came overnight and on Sunday morning some kids made a snowman. Thank you. Today I've met some girls who live in Helsinki for some years now. I asked them if this year's winter is typical. I didn't get a promising answer. They said it's rather mild. One of the girls remembered a season when she shoveled snow from her backyard still in April...

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Ski jumping and sprint - Lahti 2012

Days like today make you like winter season and Finland in particular. No, I'm not a huge fun of winter sports and I don't know much about ski jumping and not even tiny bit about cross-country skiing. But it's different to watch those disciplines on tv and another thing to be there and see everything in flesh. And for at least two reasons. First - Finnish people are huge funs of cross-country skiing and if you don't share their excitement you are considered weird and second - from this year on suddenly Poland has become huge fun of the one because we have a new star - Justyna Kowalczyk, who is really good and all the Poles love her. Anyway, we went there and for our surprise the biggest group of funs was from Poland. White-red flags were everywhere and we only heard "Polska, bialo-czerwoni!" The weather in Lahti was gorgeous, sunny, no wind and very little frost. Wanda had fun too after I explained her what's going on with those jumping. First the guy goes on a slide, than he flies and at the end he lands right next to us. Bingo! She was saying "again, again!" I had fun too. It's really nice to see, how does it look like. The ski jumping hill is huge. Much higher than I expected. When you stay downstairs the starting jumpers seem to be so tiny and so far away. Unfortunately none of the Polish ski jumpers was successful but at least Kowalczyk won the third place. She was very good, but well, two others were still better. Anyway, it was a great day, family picnic in the snow. And here're some pics:

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Morning sickness

Well, yes, this is what makes my life unbearable for the last two weeks. And I'd be glad and happy if that would be only MORNING sickness. But this is all day long sickness, which makes me feel hopeless and miserable. On the weekends it's easier, Adam is taking care of everything, but during the week no matter how I feel I am still a mother. Wanda wants to play, so I sit with her and pretend to participate in whatever she does. She needs to eat and me too, but every opening of the refrigerator makes me sick even more. I just can't stand all those odors! Everything smells horrible of rotten food or else. So I'm struggling every day. Struggling with those stench, struggling with a tiredness and struggling with nausea. And please don't ask me, if I'm happy expecting a second baby. There is nothing like happiness in me now. But we always wanted to have two kids and the time was just now. We've finally settled down, Wanda is two and a half and those a bit more than three years of age difference seems perfect and my age tells me it's the right moment and I don't have that much more years to decide for a baby and finally now it's perfect time cause I don't work so I don't have to give up my career as it was when I was pregnant with Wanda. And I hope after another couple of years, when the second one will be two or three I'll start my own life again. *** I already was on my first pregnancy appointment. And I'm gonna tell you how it works in Finland. Pretty different than in the US and I guess different than in Poland. So, here there is a special nurse - nevula, who takes care of you while you are pregnant and after delivery she takes care of the newborn baby. But she's not a gynecologist either she's not a midwife. So during my first visit she didn't check if I am really pregnant. We've made just lots of paperwork and she explained me everything how it works here. So I will have one ultrasound in a hospital around 10-13 weeks to check for all those diseases like Down syndrome and other chromosomes. This is not obligatory, but of course I chose to have all the possible tests. And the second ultrasound is after week 20 to check if the baby develops OK and if this is he or she. My second appointment with the nevula will be only between 22 and 28 weeks and more often only after the week 30. So a little less medicalized than in the States, where every time I saw a doctor and my visits were every month and they checked the heartbeat and the size of my belly. Well, I don't know, I hope here they do know what to do.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Expat wifes

Recently I've met a Polish girl. Her daughter has joined Wanda's group in a day care and this is how we've met. Very nice and warm person and an excellent example of an expat wife and an expat life style. Her husband is making his career in a big corporation, which sends him once in couple of years from one country to another. And well, yes, for eleven years now they are on a go. Some years in Moscow, some in Frankfurt, some in Budapest. They have three kids. He works long hours. And she is at home. During all those years she never worked cause how? How can you find a job in a country with a language you don't know and with no experience in that country and knowing that in three years you won't live there any more? So, any other options? Staying-at-home-mom-and-wife. And basically this is how most expat wives live. One of my friend manages to write a blog and she contributes to a moms website with her blog (she's from Holland and she writes in Dutch), so at least she makes something other people can read and appreciate, but it's only that blog and she writes about her kids and her mom's life... Another one I've met at the music class Wanda attends (soon there will be a post 'bout it) is moving from country to country with her husband, who works for an American embassy. Previously they lived in Cameroon and before for some years in another African country. The only women, who can work and who do work here are the ones who are married to Finns and who knows they will stay here for longer if not forever. So, they learn Finnish and they just settle down. For reasons. And what I am doing? What could I do during these coming years? So far I do nothing - I don't count this blog, cause it is still unofficial - for friends. I didn't write a piece since last summer. I don't have time and I don't have a power to find this time. I'm lazy I guess. And already I feel that my brain is melting, I'm losing my grey matter and white matter and I feel so stupid in case of knowledge! I miss the time I was writing like hell and interviewing the smartest brain in science. But in my current situation it's impossible. When? In the night at the kitchen table? And as my very personal situation has recently changed I won't have this possibility for another two or more years. But again. I do enjoy my life. And I meet here other women who are just like me so I don't feel like "everyone makes a career only me a desperate housewife". And I still believe one day I will go back again to my work and to myself. It's just now, for some years my expat life. Full of experiences though, only different, but maybe some day they turn out to be very fruitful. Who knows...

Friday, February 3, 2012

About language. Again

It's already a little bit more than half a year since we've moved here, but my language skills as for Suomalainen (Finnish) are basically the same. What means - close to zero. My Finnish vocabulary is more or less on a lever of a 10 months old baby with understanding of a newborn one. And so far I did nothing to change it. Why? Because still in most cases in most situations I meet every day I don't need it. And of course the lack of time for learning is another thing. But time to time I have to encounter a person who doesn't speak English. Like recently while I was making a doctor appointment. Well, on a phone the person managed to figure out what I need and she booked the appointment for me. But when I came to see the doctor I even didn't think that she wouldn't speak English. Well, I started with English and she says something in Finnish. I repeat, that I don't speak Finnish and she again says something I don't understand. Finally I went very slowly using my hands too and she realized what's my problem. We finally got to the point, but it's really awful feeling not to be able to articulate a single word. And the Finns are so polite that they always apologize for not speaking English. That's make me feel even worse, because I live in their country and I should learn at least some basics. But when is another question. When I checked all the schedules for Finnish classes nothing could suit me. Talking about language I'm thinking what to do with our daughter's day care. The English one is great but if taking full-time very expensive. One the other hand she started to really learn English, every time she comes with some new words and songs and it's so natural for her to learn it and she understands more and more. I'm still reluctant to change this day care into a Finnish one. This can make such a distress - new place, new language she doesn't understand a word and all the kids, who can perfectly communicate in that language. But it costs almost nothing comparing with the private one...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Snowing, snowing, snowing...

Is there any other place in Europe where snow has come? We enjoy new snow fall almost every day. On the roadsides there are already huge piles of snow. Many roads are white and so are sidewalks. It is really hard to push the stroller (but I have to take it when I commute to the day care - it's more convenient and it's free). Otherwise we ride the sledge. It's my first real winter since 2005 I guess - that is from the time we moved to the States. And I don't complain. It's cold, below zero, but not below -10C, so you can survive outside for a little while. And for the first time since we moved to Myllypuro I like this neighborhood. You don't have traffic here only broad promenades - now all white. And you have those pine trees - all cover with thick snowy blankets. And walking those promenades you can easily reach the woods. On the weekend we went there and Wanda was looking for a fox and there was a little brook murmuring softly. Well, again idillic? No. But pretty nice though :)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Dark sides of life in Finland

Do you remember the Helsinki part of "Night on Earth" movie (watch from minute 3:56)? If you thought the saddest possible story, which told so openly the taxi driver to the drunk guys (and one of them had a sad story too), was probably made up for the movie to make dark winter aura even more depressive, you should watch a new documentary "Steam of Life". This film tells about Finnish sauna and how important place it is in Finns life and especially for men. Usually they are not prone to tell about their private life and about themselves in general, but in sauna - sitting one next to the other, naked and sweated they open their mouths and their hearts to - very often guys they don't know. So, here it is. A guy, who lost one of his beloved twin daughters, when the girl was only two and a half and how bad it was and how he suffer whenever he sees twins. And when he got that phone call from the hospital and thought: which one of the girls is dead? Another guy who spent some time in Swedish jail and was homeless and had nothing. And now he lives in a country side and has a family and sons. OK, that story had at least a happy end. But another guy, old, thin, with only one eye, hardworking in the forest somewhere in nowhere (oh, how beautiful that "nowhere" is in Finland!) told his story about his daughter. From the time of his divorce he didn't see her and it is already many many years, and how he misses her and loves her and how much he would like to tell her. And to the end there is a city sauna somewhere in Helsinki and there meet two homeless guys and talk how bad it is to be so lonely. All of the characters were very open to each other, they cried and showed their emotions. So, you watch this documentary and you thing - Are they really so depressed? Don't they have any optimistic topics? Do they like to show only the dark sides of life? I mean - tragedies happen everywhere on Earth, but here it seems that people don't tell about how beautiful life can be. I was deeply depressed after watching that. Honestly! Watch this documentary or any of Ari Kaurismaki movie and you will know what I am talking about. Anyway, before you visit this country you should watch at least one of Finnsih films. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Thaw

The thaw came last night and already in the morning there was nothing left from this fairy-tale-landscape. The rain made its dibble dibble sound leaving plenty of tiny drops on all our windows. It was grey and dark good after 9 in the morning. But I decided we have to do something to make this day rolling. So we got dressed and weaponed with an umbrella, rain cover for the stroller and rain boots and ... off we go to the Myllynsiipi play park. This is this place for kids to play outside and inside with plenty of great toys. Wanda loves going there. We spent some time playing inside with her favorite cars and trucks and after a while we left. Outside there was pretty strong rain mixed with some snow, the snow on the ground was now more like a shallow pond and it was simply awfully. But unfortunately my lovely daughter noticed a sledge "mommy, I want a ride on this one!" - she shouted. OK, fine, a short ride and we go home - I said. Well, not that easy, not with a two years old, who happened to adore this aura. She saw another sledge and one more and of course she had to seat and be pulled on all of them. I was soggy and so she was. But somehow she was happy and full of energy. It didn't help me when there came another kids her age - full of joy with big shovels and started to play with that melting snow. "I want this shovel!" - shouted Wanda. And she run to the others to play. For the kids but also for their moms the weather conditions seemed not to make a big difference. I was the only one hiding under a small roof and waiting for the beautiful moment I will be home drinking my coffee.
Finally she came to me, happy and ready to go. Well, I think I have to adjust. The winter just started and always after white, sunny, snowy and frosty days there has to come a thaw.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Home, sweet home

It's good to be home again. For Christmas and the New Year we went to Poland to visit our family. It was a good idea especially for Wanda - she enjoyed every minute she spent with her cousins. But it is now this nice and warm feeling of being back home again. Funny, but just after four months in Helsinki I (but same for Adam) feel this is my home, my place. And for obvious reasons Poland is less and less such a place for me.
Helsinki welcomed us with a real northern snowstorm! Finally winter! While going home from the airport by taxi I felt like in "Night on Earth" movie. White highway, nostalgic music on a radio and a quiet taxidriver. Welcome to Finland :)
And a Happy New Year!