Friday, December 13, 2013

Pre-X-mas prep.

I started today. Or actually yesterday when I went to do some Christmas groceries. And so now I'm cooking all the parts for barszcz that is out traditional soup eaten on Christmas Eve. You have to cook separately onions and beet roots with vegies and wild mushrooms. After that you combine all three stock and at the end you add some red wine, black pepper etc. I'm going to freeze those stock so that I don't stand in my apron on Christmas Eve. I'm also going to bake a cheese cake, actually not very Polish version, because it's going to be a New York cheese cake, but I love it and it is very festive cake. Oh, over the weekend I will have to make all the special dumplings stuffed with wild mushrooms and again freeze them. You serve them together with the barszcz. Then some more shopping, that is some herrings and other fish. My parents will bring some things from Poland. I have all decorations for the Christmas tree. The only thing which is missing is the snow. There is zero of it. Today the weather is more like pre-spring with a very heavy wind, blue sky and sun and plus 5C. I remember last year it was at least 20 centimeters snow and it was snowing every day. It was crazy moving around by car or pushing the stroller but it was also so beautiful. I wish the snow will come soon. 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

What Christmas means?

Last Friday there was a  Christmas concert in our daughter day care. Tears in my eyes as always. Kids  so cute. Teachers so engaged. Nice evening. But what the whole concert was about? It was made as a music contest with many songs not at all associated with Christmas. Only seasonal songs were Santa is coming to town and Rudolf the red nose reindeer. But neither decoration nor songs nor anything in a speech was about the real reason we do celebrate Christmas. What is Christmas? Santa, the tree, presents of course, ginger bread. That's it. And this is a shame. Because if we do celebrate this holy holiday as Christmas and not just few days off with presents around, we should know and tell what is it for. I don't want to say that the teachers should be Christian priests talking about religion, especially that this is an international kindergarten with kids from India, Japan Etc. who have different religious background, but it is not the case. It would be just so simple and normal to talk about who was born on that special night, where and what happened there. Just like a story. Kids love this story about baby Jesus, about all those animals around him and his dedicated mom. Our daughter has an Indian book about god Ram Ramayana which we brought her from India! and this is just fine. She can learn something about different culture. She doesn't have to believe in any god. And so could be made about Christmas. I have to admit that me myself forgot a bit about it and what is really important for this very holiday. I started to play at home CDs with Polish Christmas carols, which are beautiful and make this special atmosphere. But than me and my husband realized that actually we didn't do much to tell our daughter about Christmas. And there are no good books or movies for kids. I asked my mom to send us a new book written by a Swedish author about believing in Santa. I wanted this book after I have read a very good review. And the book begins very nicely and I was very happy and Wanda was interested what's going to be next until the part when that Santa being very upset used his magic and turned a baby Jesus in a Christmas decoration (you know the barn saint Maria, Joseph, the three kings) into a sceleton. Well, for me it was too much. I think even more for the fact that changing a new born baby into a dead sceleton is scary and horrible than for the fact that we talked about a baby God for believers. I am not very much a believer, I doubt more often than I believe, but I was raised with the tradition of Christians Christmas and not with a tradition of shopping Christmas and I don't like the modern idea of forgetting about the beauty and real sense of this winter celebration. I think me and my husband have a lesson to learn. Our daughter is growing and we have to teach her our own culture. Living abroad, attending international schools makes it harder but not impossible I hope. Although when I asked her tonight that we should practice one of the carols for Christmas she said she likes most the Rudolf the red nose reindeer... 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

December began



Our third winter is on its way. Our third Santa parade was by the end of November. For the third time we are waiting for the first snow. Oh, actually there was a bit of white yesterday evening, but it melted already. Now I am preoccupied with thoughts about Tomek's future day care, about Wanda's future school and about my eventual future work, oh, and of course as always, about our future moving apartment. For each of those things there is still time, but it runs fast and I need to make plans in advance. But in a meantime our little son started walking and is even more cute than before. So I enjoy as much as I can that precious time with him knowing it will be gone so soon and in two years he will be a full time kindergarten kid and never again this cute little toddler. This winter will be again so different from the last year and the two years before. Easier I hope, kids are bigger. I am more relaxed. Knowing the city even better. Knowing more and more people. Being busy. Yes, too busy with I don't know what that I still didn't get any Christmas decorations! Nor any gifts for my parents who are coming for the holidays. But I'm getting better with baking goodies. Recently I've made my first hallah. It was surprisingly easy. Thanks to my perfect food processor making a yeast dough is a piece of cake. And it was delicious and beautiful. I'm going to repeat it. I would give you a link to a web page, but it was in Polish, so not for all the readers. Anyway I'm going to repeat it. Best right from the oven when still warm. We ate it too fast and no pics were taken. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

November - grayvember

And so again - for the third time in row the time "waiting for the first snow" has already begun. It is gray, it is very wet and rainy and cloudy this year. And after we set the clocks back to winter time days seem to be even shorter. Now when we wake up is dark and the sun set is just after 4pm. And so whenever the rain stops and whenever I can see (or imagine) some sun I rush outside with my son to catch some D vitamin and some fresh air. And sometimes I go out in the rain, who cares! I really used to this climate. Last weekend I went to Copenhagen to visit my friend. It was a perfect weekend. And for the first time without the kids and without the husband. It's a great city, one I could move to. Lively, cozy, bikes, bikes and bikes everywhere, nice architecture, bars and restaurants, a bit milder climate comparing to Helsinki. And so close to other European countries, so much easier to get somewhere. But they don't have our white and snowy winter. They have this grayness all the winter. Anyway, candle-light season is open now.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Breast-feeding a toddler, preschooler


Recently a friend of mine Karolina Baszarkiewicz who is a photographer and a mother of two started a very interesting and inspiring project - she is capturing those rare and precious moments of this very closeness between a mother and her baby/child during breast-feeding. Her pictures are very soft and warm and show this simplicity and beauty of spending the time together. What is not so usual the kids are not babies anymore. They walk, they play, they talk. They are two or even three years old. Still on breast? One would ask. Yes. Not too long? No. This is exactly why she decided to make those photo sessions. Because we in our western culture (I don't know much about other parts of the world) do support - even very strongly support - breast-feeding and very often we think it is better then formula, but we support it up to certain age of the baby. Usually it is one year. After that - quit. She writes that some people make very unpleasant comments about those mothers nursing their big toddlers. For some it is disgusting, unnatural, pointless. On the other hand there is also very negative opinion about women who for some reason don't breast-feed at all. Those who choose bottle over breast from the very beginning or just after two or three months. Those are also bad mothers. And who makes those opinions? We, women! We like to judge other women. We don't support different behaviors. And who we are to judge? Breast-feeding is so intimate and so personal and shouldn't be judged. Never. This is my own choice and your own choice. We should believe mothers do have the best intuition what is best for their babies and how long do they want to breast-feed. Whatever they choose they should be supported and not judged. Me myself breastfed both of my kids for about a year, my daughter a bit longer, my son a bit shorter. I felt it was enough. I had enough, my body had enough and my psyche. It was a long and slow process of weaning so no one was heart. Just recently I had a yearly check-up with both of my kids - 1-year-old and 4-year-old. I was quite surprised that I was encouraged to give my toddler fat free cow milk. Why fat free? Now he still drinks the formula and if I start regular milk than it will be whole milk. He does need this milk fat. He is not overweight. Same my daughter. They grow and need the fat for the brain development for vitamins D and other nutrients. On the other hand in different parts of the world kids and adults don't drink milk at all. Kids stop after they stop drinking breast milk. And they can grow healthy (if they don't lack other nutrients, what is not so obvious in certain parts of the world). Anyway, let's support breast-feeding but let's not judge those who never breast-fed nor those who did it for few years.  

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Puu-Vallila or Wooden Vallila walk

Today we went for a walk to this old district in Helsinki - wooden Vallila, old Vallila. It is few blocks with old wooden houses build in the beginning of XX century. They look a bit like those old small towns like Porvoo or Rauma. I mean that by walking down those narrow streets along those small wooden painted houses you don't have a feeling of being in a big city. You get the feeling of moving back several decades to some long forgotten old days. The weather was also perfect. Cold, a bit cloudy (and finally it started to snow a little), first sunny but soon quite dark. You know sort of the atmosphere from Kaurismaki's movies. Old fashion. Old Finland. Places you don't know where they are. And they hidden form the public eye. They hide nowadays between much higher newer buildings (still quite old though) which stand along main streets. For me it was sort of a surprise to "discover" the whole Vanha Vallila right behind a street which I used to drive almost for the whole last year (it was on my way to a day care). The houses still look quite good (some were under renovation) but what they say it is not a posh neighborhood. It used to be working class area but nowadays it is becoming trendy (or bohemian) like Kallio. I'm not sure about those wooden houses, but it is said about the whole Vallila. Unfortunately we didn't check the battery in our camera (it was empty) so no pics were taken. But I believe the one Helsinki episode from old Jim Jarmush movie has a scene either in this area or another with very similar old wooden houses. So, you can google and see that scene (when the drunk guy ends up being kicked out of the taxi around his house). Anyway, I like Helsinki for still having so many places like that. Preserved for decades without any touch of modern life.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Piglets on a supermarket shelve

Yes. This is what made the news in Poland most recently. One of the supermarket chain - Makro Cash&Carry - started to sell in vacuum packages piglets - meat that is - not cute pets. The view wasn't pleasant of course - you had those baby pigs, dead, wrapped tightly in plastic. The link: pig Like meat! Yes. Like all kinds of meat people buy every day and eat every day. Pork - it is pig too but if we buy it in a form of thin slices we treat it more like something what grew on a tree and not like a big muscle of that piglet or its mommy pig or daddy pig. So, in Poland - the country of huge consumption of pork - I guess an average Pole eats pork at least once every day - you get this huge "scandal". How one can sell piglets??!! Horrible to look at them! dead animals! Yes. It is hard to look at them. But on the other hand maybe this is something we should have more often. We, people living in cities and buying in supermarkets and trying to forget that eating meat means killing animals first. And unfortunately very often the whole life of those animals was a disaster - industrial farming. But we don't want to see it don't want to know it. We just want our pork or beef or better veal and lamb. No old animals meat, we like soft meat of young ones. Yes, those piglets and tiny calfs. On the other hand most of us is strongly against hunting. How can anyone shoot a deer? - we ask, we meat-eaters. It is so so strange. I'm sure it isn't like that for country people. They do live surrounded by farm animals, they do know what they need to do with the piggy to get a piece of ham or what to do with chickens to get hot-wings. Maybe this is what our kids should have in their school program. And we should get reminded time to time of this. Maybe this would lead us to cut our meat consumption? Maybe once a week a piece of fish, once in two weeks a chicken, once in a month pork and once in three months some beef? This is more or less my meat schedule. I don't mind eating shrimps and fish, I do not consider those animals big brainers so I'm OK with killing them for food. But I do care of a decent life of all farm mammals and also chickens. I do my best to buy organic. It is not so easy and I admit - I do buy regular supermarket meat sometimes. Always feeling guilty! Because I always see the animal behind this nice piece of meat. Fortunately recently I discovered in my local supermarket organic meat. In Helsinki there are few places where you can buy or order organic meat and also meat from local small farmers (I believe they do take care of their animals). There is one shop in Hakaniemi market hall - check the link reininliha.fi - very good meat and not pricey at all, or check the link makumaku.fi - there you can order organic and local food. I never tried to do this yet, but I will. And going back to Poland and poor piglets. I guess people have already forgot the famous Polish specialty served for big occasions like big weddings or big company events or that sort of parties. Baked in a whole piece - what? - a piglet! with an apple in its mouth. Yes, this same piglet which made such sorry feelings in those pork-eaters hearts.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Tricky language

This time I will talk about my mother tongue - Polish. Last morning, very early morning, my little son woke me up too early and while he was playing next to my bed, me - still half conscious at 6.30 - was wandering with my thoughts about some words in Polish and how actually I am suppose to use them. Well, those words were nothing rare, actually most common verbs we use several times a day. Namely words like "to dress" "to put on". Now, it is not possible for me to explain in English the Polish variations and why one form is correct and another isn't (I am not a linguist and my English is too weak for that). But I have to admit - and shame on me - that I used also incorrect forms! Me, a journalist!!! And I really take care of my language, I grew up in a home where good Polish was practiced and grammar errors were corrected and till now it is painful for me to listen to all those errors people make while speaking Polish (and I mean the Poles not foreigners, for the latter I have my greatest respect if they were so brave to learn this difficult language). Anyway, for my Polish readers I will write those tricky words. So, we should say "wkładam sukienkę" (I put on dress) "wkładam buty i kapelusz" (I put on shoes and a hat) and not "ubieram sukienkę, buty, kapelusz" or "zakładam buty" - they are incorrect and I really have no clue how to translate those incorrect examples, sorry! You could say though "ubieram się w sukienkę" or you can say "zakładam krawat" - because a tie is something you put over your clothes and not on you, if it makes any sense at all.... Why am I writing about all that at all? Because since I have children and my older one started to talk - that is for the last three years - I noticed that Polish is a crazy tricky language and it is almost impossible to not make grammar errors. It is full of exceptions and sometimes to such an extend that you have an impression that actually there are no rules any more. There is no logic (or a very hidden logic) in conjugation and in inflection of many words. And I started to notice it when my daughter started to talk. She was making all sorts of grammar errors just because she followed logic! When conjugating a verb she made it using a logical pattern adding a proper (or she thought it was proper) suffix to an infinitive and almost always it wasn't correct or it was correct for one verb but not for another even if an infinitive form sounded like a verb of the same kind. What's more it was extremely hard to explain her why is should be said in a different form, because I couldn't find a good and simple answer.  So, if any of you are struggling with Suomi 101, consider taking Polski 101 and relax :) Recently there was circulating on Facebook a picture with a pyramid showing what languages are hard and what are easy. Guess what - my lovely mother tongue was the winner! Second place was reserved for Finnish. Of course it wasn't an unbiased research. The pyramid was made by an English native so for him obviously all languages with conjugation and inflection (that is all Slavic languages) might be quite hard, plus the long words, plus our "ś" "ć" "ź", "dż", "dź" etc. sounds are usually unspeakable for foreigners and my best and simplest example is "cześć" that is "hi", "hola", "moi"! OK, done. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Nobel and my brain

It's October, it's Nobel Prize month. This is the week when I was always excited and I used to open my laptop early in the morning (in Sweden it was already afternoon) with a huge dose of curiosity and excitement and I was getting ready to act fast. That were those years in the States, before my sweet little Wanda was born. I remember so good reading fast who and for what discovery was awarded and where the guy comes from. If he was somewhere in the States I knew that the job is mine. The job of interviewing him as soon as possible. And it happened twice that I really managed to do this. Oh, I remember my excitement and that I was doing sort of historic thing, that I am talking with a guy who really has changed a world - in medicine or chemistry or other sciences. And those scientists are amazing, always quite shy, busy with their work, not willing to be on a first page, very polite, eager to explain in a simple language their crazy hard science. And now. This year I was so busy with my mundane stuff and with my kids that I even missed the days and have read the news day or two late. I tried to read what they were awarded for and reading the professional information (not from a daily newspaper) made me feel "I don't understand a word". It is sad how fast the brain deteriorates when not used. I wonder if it ever recovers if I will be back on track one day. And it is not a twenty something brain unfortunately... (to make things more positive there is an excellent book about a grown-up brain by Barbara Strauch :)) well, anyway, this year's Nobel prizes in science are wonderful and I am happy for the laureates. 

Am I a hipster or simply an old lady?

Why this title? Because I am going to knit. Yesterday I bought some wool (nice and soft merino) and knitting needles! Gosh! Sounds terrible? My husband looked at me with big eyes. And he asked: Have you gotten that old already? No, I replied, I am a hipster, don't you see? Didn't you know that they are happy to do out of fashion stuff? Why not knitting? I took the tools and to my surprise I didn't forget how to do that! I used to knit when I was a child and I did all the clothes for my dolls and even a sweater for myself. It wasn't very well done but I loved to wear it. And so somehow I missed knitting. I don't know if I am going to get ready with anything like a scarf or a hat before the winter ends but at least I will have busy hands on those long winter nights :) Well, to be honest I don't know if I will be able to have free hands and to get busy with knitting, but why not giving myself a chance. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

I love fall!


Even those grey wet foggy days are beautiful with those yellow orange and red leaves falling down, covering streets and side walks like thick carpets. I like the fog soaring at the sea surface and hiding all the ships from your view. I like to set up candle lights around the house. It makes the fall/winter cosy atmosphere. Today I went to IKEA to buy some furniture for Wanda's room and it's funny - there you have X-mass decorations already. Bit too early for me. We still are in a harvest mood with pumpkins and all kinds of squashes and wild berries around. I love to go to Hakaniemi farmers market and buy there fresh goodies. I love their organic shop inside, where they do have all sorts of fine squashes and best cucumbers ever :) Today I should cook something with my butternut squash still sitting in my refrigerator... Warming-up soup maybe? 

Friday, October 4, 2013

after two years in Helsinki

It's been already over two years since we moved to Helsinki. Time flies I'd say. It doesn't feel like that. It feels like we moved just recently... Only if I look back and memorize the first months here with little Wanda... Yes, her age and how much she has changed makes me think we are quite a long here. And well, for her it is half her life! For her Helsinki is her home town I guess. And so will be for Tomek. Not just a stop on a life path, no, this is their home. And for me? Recently I've got some mixed thoughts about my life here. Our apartment - shall we look for something better? Renting or buying? Making long term plans for our future or live from day to day? Settle down here and planing more years or rather thinking about what's next, what's after Helsinki? Looking for a job and if yes, what kind of job? To make money or to be satisfied? You know, those thoughts without a real answer because there is no immediate answer to most of those questions and I really do not need an answer. It is more for my mind to wander and meander and weigh the pros and cons. But just about today I came to a simple idea. Our daughter's day care is located in Kamppi/Rouholahti. There is so nice there and I am there every morning. So, as simply as it is I can always spend there some more time. Going to a nice park and playground, strolling at the sea side (what I love doing! water! sea galls! ships!) and going back home a bit later. And I started to use my car again, so sometimes instead of going by metro we pack ourselves to the car and I drive and the good thing about it is that we pass on our way my favorite neighborhood - Kruununhaka - the very first place we lived in Helsinki. So I guess it is my own attitude whether I feel fulfilled with my life here or not. And as always - there are those small things, someone would say unimportant, even silly or childish, but no - those little things make your whole life. But anyway after the two years I still don't know any Finnish besides of some single words, Wanda can speak good English but not Finnish either. I have some friends but I feel like I need to meet and see more people - this is a job to do and not a difficult one. And well, I should really enjoy every day with my little boy who is one. Time flies. We should grab the moments - again the cliche! 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Lapland


If you ever thought about spending summer in Finland go to Lapland. And go there in September. In this time there is an Indian Summer there or what they used to call it here: Ruska. We went there on a second week of September and we had a gorgeous weather and colors. We went to Saariselka region which is right at the entrance to the Urho Kekkonen National Park. The park is huge, something like 150 km across. How to get there? Best by plane, you can take one up to Ivalo and you are right there (plus a short bus trip). We took one to Rovaniemi because of course having kids obligates you to visit Santa. But I liked it too. I mean, there was no season for Santa of course, so his village was sort of empty and asleep with some lost Japanese tourists wandering around. But Santa Claus is there all year round and is happy to see the kids. My kids were amazed by him. Wanda was brave enough to speak to him in English, Tomek was brave enough to crawl by himself up to Santa's huge boots. I guess in the kids eyes there is some magic out there, the house, the interior, all like in an old fairy tale, like from the good old times. But there was one funny thing - they have actually more then one Santa Claus! And we discovered it on the second day. When we arrived in the afternoon, right after having late lunch we went to see Santa in his home. This is what they told us - that there was his home or office, whatever. But the next morning before we left we went for a walk around the whole village and we visited him in his second home - a big house. I was sort of surprised that when Santa saw us for the second time, he didn't say anything about the fact. And with not so many people visiting the place he should have remember us! So I was suspicious :) And when we were walking back to our cottage I saw the welcoming sign saying "visit Santa in his office". Ahah! So, that's the trick. One guy is in the house, the other in the office. But I don't think it's fair for the kids. Anyway, we left his village and we headed up North! North from the Arctic Circle! Lapland is perfect for long walking, hiking, biking, runing. I loved the colors. Red, orange, yellow and blue - the sky. And the reindeers! They really walk along the way, so you must be careful while driving. But maybe instead for writing I will attach some pictures.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Past summer in the city - Suomenlinna, Linnanmaki and stuff

OK, almost two months without putting a single word to my blog is a shame. I really even had a thought to stop posting at all. But it was a stupid idea. I should keep writing, for me, for the readers, for my English (buhhaaah! it's on a slippery slope since I've left the States!). So, let's look back to the summer. That is to August. It was a nice month. It was really super warm and sunny in Helsinki, we really had perfect summer weather and we had guests. My two nieces and my sister came to visit us. Wanda and Tomek were amazed and I hope everyone was happy. I decided to be a good auntie and I planned busy and active week in the city. There were too many of us to use my car, so everything we did was planned in a way we could have reach the place easily by public transport what is of course easy in Helsinki. And so one day we went to the Olympic Stadium swimming pool. I wrote about that place before. It is one of my faves place to spend a warm summer day. I love the old school architecture reminding me of the past era and the forested area. It's perfect to spend even a whole day, cause there is also a play ground for the kids or even two of them - one for little ones and one for big kids. You can use sauna, lay in the sun, have ice-cream. The only weird thing is that you are not allowed to take pictures. And I don't know what's the reason - that accidentally you can take a pic of another person or that you are not suppose to document the premises itself. Of course I didn't know it and so I started to take pics of my kids (I've managed to take some)and the staff person reminded me not to use my camera. Oh, actually they reminded us of other things too - like when my daughter took her swimsuit off and wanted to run to the water naked (it is not allowed) and when my niece wanted to snorkeling (and this is also not allowed for some reasons). I felt weird, cause there were only our family constantly being reminded of things, burt anyway, I didn't mind. I respect their rules. Another day we went for a whole day trip to Suomenlinna. It is a must for any visitor in Helsinki and of course I've been there several times but this time it was a very different visit. I found out that you can go there to tunnels in a fortress and the tunnels are scattered around the whole island area. And so the day before our trip I bought two torches, we packed lots of food for a picnic, took a blanket, good shoes and we went to downtown market. Ferries go from the Kauppatori and it takes about 15 minutes to get to the island. The first thing we did there was a visit on a play ground! Yes, what a surprise :) next thing was a picnic on a lawn, because all of us got extremely hungry and we packed all the delicious stuff. And when we were finishing our food we notices the sign telling "The toy museum". All right. I've never been there and so it looked like we were in a perfect company to explore it. It is hidden from the view and easy to omit if you follow the main track and not stopping at the playground. You have to turn towards the shore and than the path follows you through some old maintenance buildings, but after that you see a beautiful cosy house with a cute cafe, flowers, colors and you are right there. The toy museum is small, there is an entrance fee for kids too, but it is packed with old toys especially for girls. You can find there all kinds of old doll houses with all sort of tiny equipment - furniture, kitchen utensils. All tiny and beautiful and you wonder how it was possible to make such tiny pieces of all that. One of my nieces was over amazed, she could have spend there a whole day looking at the houses. She's the fan on Sylvinian Family if you know what I mean :). And after we were ready with that the girls wanted finally to use their torches and see the tunnels. They are marked on a map and not hard to find. Some of them are not very spectacular - too light and not underground, but the best one is close to the Kings Gate at the end of the island's main path and that one was something! The kids were excited, it was dark, wet and long tunnel and you could have "discover" some different paths inside. On our way back home (we took the ferry from the King's Gate) and than the metro home, Wanda fell asleep and she slept up to the next morning. It was an exhausted and exciting day. Oh, and of course one day we spent in Linnanmaki and even I went to one of their roller-coster. But I am not a person who enjoys it... anyway kids had lots of fun. I was mostly amazed by the prizes: a single ride is 7 euros not depending on age , one good thing is that some small kids carusells are for free. What else have we done during that week? They explored the Natural History Museum which is fun for the kids, cause you can see the skeletons of dinosaurs and plenty of animals from all over the world. We've been there with Wanda twice already. It's good especially in a winter time. This time we didn't go to Heureka - again the car didn't fit so many people. But the girls were happy to play in our play park Myllynsippi, which is now brand new renovated and really nice. Oh, it's so good to memorize the summer!

Monday, August 5, 2013

back to routine

And well, vacation is over. We spent almost a whole month in Poland. Kids had lots of fun. I had lots of mundane work - around the house and with the kids. Not enough time to rest, not even five minutes for reading (I didn't open a book I took with me, there was no chance for that), but well, sometimes vacation means selfgiving for a better future for your kids. Or does it go like that at all? Anyway, we are back in Helsinki and back to our routine. Today it was Wanda's first day in her new kindergarten. I promised her to stay with her and play and so I did it. Tomek was enjoying the place, Wanda wasn't sure she wants to be there, but after some time she seemed to be fine. Her teachers were so happy to see her again (they worked in her previous day care) and it gave Wanda some confidence. But there were no friends... and that was so sad. She was sad and I knew that it is because she doesn't know anyone and the place is new. And I was sad too having in mind last year with the four best friends, always together, always having fun, always supporting each other. From the bunch of four one in already living abroad, one joined another day care and one will be with Wanda, but he is still on holiday. The times they are a-changin...

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Giving birth and what's after...

There was a discussion on a Facebook group Expat parents in Helsinki about going to hospital to give birth and what to pack and what to expect. I remember very well those days before my labour started and how excited I was and how much I did to prepare myself for that moment. I took those expensive birth prep classes, I was attending prenatal yoga classes, I was practicing breathing and I was preparing my mind listening to all those relaxation mantras. And that's OK. But giving birth it was a moment - looking at the big picture and from my perspective right now. It was a very BIG moment of course and in that very moment I felt like nothing on earth is more important than that, but after my newborn son was resting on my belly it was all over and the new chapter has already began. And guess what - for this new chapter we are not prepared. I mean, I was sort of, because he was my second child, but still. We don't take classes of "how to be a parent", "how to deal with sleepless nights, crying, new family relations, crisis, your own life, your private time (none of it for long months), fights" etc. etc. I know, there are self-help-books, I know, I've read tons of them while being first-time mom and I only got even more frustrated (guess what - life was not exactly as they said in those books...). Now I remember what one of my friends told me when I was just couple weeks before giving birth. She is a mother of three, two of them are already teens. And she said something similar to my current thoughts. She said, it was good that I was preparing myself for the labour, but the real life starts after that and this is what I should have in mind. It is so true. I remember after having Wanda I even didn't know about what to expect from my own body, all the physiological changes normal for a postpartum period and later on. I didn't know because actually no one tells that. We focus so much on a pregnancy, we know all the symptoms by heart for every month of the pregnancy, but we are surprised after it's over how our body changes, reacts and looks like. Some time ago I even wrote an article (for a Polish women's magazine "Twoj Styl") about exactly that: what to expect not while you're expecting but after the baby is already there, what to expect from your body and mind. So, yes, it is good to be prepared for giving birth, a good birth, but it is same important, no, more important, to be prepared for what's after. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Summer in Finland

There are some stereotypes about Finland and Finns. There is dark, cold, the people don't talk, right? They are many of them and some are true and some false - as it always is with such labels. But recently I've learned that at least one stereotype about Finnish lifestyle is definitely true. The summer cottage. Ask anyone about his/her summer vacation plans and I give you 99% of chance that you will hear the following answer: we are going to our summer cottage or to our parents summer cottage or to our in-laws cottage or at least to our friends summer cottage. The summer cottage is located in 95% of cases at a lake and has a sauna. And what are they going to do there? Going to the sauna, fishing, BBQ-ing and picking berries in the woods. Of course! It really is like that. Just yesterday I asked one of my neighbor friend about their plans for the summer and I almost laughed when I've heard her answer - exactly same as I have already heard from so many other Finns! Oh and another very important fact about Finnish events. The Midsummer night - the shortest night of the year which is a huge holiday and festival in every corner of the country. There is even a day off, shops are closed and everyone goes to have fun celebrating the summer night around a bonfire. Bonfires are suppose to be located at the lake shore or sea shore. Everyone asks me what are we going to do on the Midsummer weekend and now I think we have to go somewhere to see a bonfire and celebrate it Finnish way. I know that a big festival will be on Seurasaari, but it starts around 4pm, quite late as for our kids. But we'll see. Anyway, now is a perfect time to come to Finland. There is almost no night, sun is shining, moods are up, city looks gorgeous, sparkling wine and ice-cream are everywhere. What else do you need?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Friends

I have to say that: I do have great friends here. We are four moms of our four kids who are best friends in a day care. All the teachers always point to their great friendship and how unusual it is in that age. They are friends since they were hardly three! And we moms became also good friends, getting together on all the play dates, birthday parties, other parties and occasions. Yesterday I made for Wanda her B-day party because one of the friends is soon leaving for Holland and all the others (we too) will go for summer vacation, so there wouldn't be any possibility to celebrate her birthday on an actual day in July. And so all they came to our home, it was tons of laugh, some crying and screaming, some fighting but all in all great fun and play. And such great presents she got, and she had a cake with a number 4 candle and she was so proud that she is also 4 now. Big girl. For a cake I baked a brownie and decorated it with a cream cheese frosting and strawberries. Very American :) but is was delicious. Oh, and it was so so sad to say good-bye to one of us. Gaby and her cute Lotte are leaving and it was really the last time we've seen them. Sad. It is so sad, you make friends and then it is time to say good bye.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Summer's in full

And we enjoy it so so much! It is unbelievably hot, sunny and awesome and I really cannot imagine the snow, coldness and darkness from just few months ago. It is sunny when I'm going to sleep and sunny again when my lovely little boy wakes up in a middle of the night to get some milk. And we party and will party in coming days. We celebrated Wanda's friend birthday yesterday in Linnanmaki amusement park. It was fun! Crazy fun. Wanda and her three best friends and we - moms and friends too. When we got home after 7 in the evening Wanda hardly was able to brush her teeth and she immediately fell asleep. For the last few weeks they are practicing in a day care songs and dances for a Spring Concert. Wanda and her friends will be monkeys :) And the event will take part tomorrow in Seurasaari (it is a beautiful island with an open-air museum and the woods). Then there will be a BBQ party by our friends and next week I am organizing Wanda's party - to celebrate a bit earlier her coming birthday and also to say good-bye to her best friend. We are already so sad because of that. Almost every day Wanda says: I'm sad that Lotte is leaving. Yes, me too, because I really love this cute little girl and we are such good friends with her mom. But this is the expat life - one day someone has to go back to his home country or another place and it is sad. On the other hand it was similar in the States - people there are so mobile. They graduate in California and get a job in New England, or go from Minnesota to Florida or oversees and so forth and this is what was also going on while we were living in New Jersey. So, maybe it is actually quite a normal situation. I used to it too, but still hard to say good-bye. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Enjoying life - again

How do I feel today? My happy little life (this is also a title of a lovely blog I subscribe to). Yes, my little happy events, my little happy moments, so precious, so sweet. Moments with my kids. Best kids! I love them so much. For the last few days both of them are so sweet, well behaved, smiley. I'm so proud of them. Recently I had an parent-teacher appointment in Wanda's day care. And I've heard all the best things ever about my little daughter. How smart she is, how independent and confident, what a good friend she is and has very strong bonds with her friends (which I know, but it looks like it is something quite unusual at this age). How good she is in focusing on a subject or task, how good are they language skills and writing and interest in learning new stuff. Wow, a lot of great news. And while I was sitting there and listening to all those praises my beloved baby boy was playing next to me on a mat not interrupting at all. And today we had a date - me and my husband. And we took a babysitter for the kids. Big step for us! And everything went just excellent. Tomek was such a good baby not crying at all and Wanda had a good time playing with the girl. We are going to do this time to time. And the date itself? It would be perfect if not for the fact that the movie we went to see was mostly in French! It wasn't a French movie though. We wouldn't choose one. It was an American movie made by an American director "To the wonder" with Ben Affleck playing a main character, so we really didn't expect other spoken language than English. So, it was quite funny or annoying that we  didn't understand the words, but on the other hand the movie is made in such a picturesque way with not that many dialogues, so you can find out what's going on. And Ben Affleck wasn't very talkative. The movie was about emotions, not words. So it saved the situation. Well, I'm going to read the plot on Wikipedia... It was good to have a glass of champagne and to sit on Esplanadi and watch the summer crowd. I like Helsinki again. Anyway, did I share the weather forecast already? No? I should have! We have SUMMER. It is beautiful, sunny, warm, so warm that you look for some shade. It was like 25C and no clouds and no wind. And it is suppose to be so nice for the next few days. Hurray! Moods up! 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Rankings

My dear cousin just reminded me what a wonderful place on earth I chose to live. Finland so far wins or is in the top 3 or top 5 or at worst top 10 best (whatever aspect of life you take) country in the world. So, let's start from the most recent ranking. Finland is the best country for being mother. In top 10 are all the Scandinavian countries, Holland, Germany, Spain, Australia. And yes, this is something I really appreciate every day. I knew it already while deciding for Finland. I knew that my life as a mother will be nice and easy. And so it is indeed. Jumping to the next ranking "Newsweek" ranked Finland "best country in the world". Wow! Here is why. And if you think Finns are gloomy, pessimistic, sad and depressive you are wrong again. Finland ranks third most happy country in the world. And it was based on self-satisfaction. And of course there is education - a top one product of Finland (next to Nokia and Angry Birds). About Finnish school system talks everyone in any country and everyone asks over and over again - what is the magic bullet why Finnish schools are doing so well? Read the whole article I linked, but here is an excerpt: "The [Finnish] curricula are very much focused on critical thinking and problem solving, project-based learning, and learning to learn," she said. "There is a lot of collaboration in the classroom."
In his lecture, Sahlberg discussed three key areas: equality in education, time management and perception of teachers as professionals, topics also covered in his recent book, Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland? To all those rankings I would like to add my own one: we have best winters in the world! just kidding! ;)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Reflections about Poland

Do you remember that I used to complain about Finnish behavior towards pregnant women on a tram? Or about drunkards here and there? And that I was trying to assure me and my readers that in Poland (that is my home country) such situations are very rare. Well, not really after my last visit there. One day I took a tram with my two little ones. my baby in a stroller and my little girl holding my hand. So we got inside and there were no free seats, but all the seats around us were occupied by very young people - I'd say mostly students in their 20-ties. Mostly guys. Everyone took a look on us and than again back to the window or his/her smart phone. Nobody was interested in giving me his seat although Polish tram drivers are usually unfulfilled Formula 1 drivers trying to speed up to maximum between one stop and the next. So I've got a lesson: there is not a Finnish problem about self-oriented and ignorant people. This is a general problem about self-oriented, ignorant people, especially young generation raised in front of a laptop with a smart phone in one hand. They seem to care only about what's going on on FB and not around them. I wonder what's going on with people? Are they really so careless? Are they too busy? But one day those young students will also push a stroller and struggle with a kicking toddler. Will they learn their lesson this time?
And about those drunkards and bums. There is a very nice square close to where my sister lives. There is also a nice play ground there. Green. Quiet. But it seems to be a favorite place for those ugly bums for ages. I remember they were there occupying the benches years ago and they are still there (a new generation I guess). So, actually nothing has changed. 
And so walking around my parents old residential area I was again considering my Myllypuro not such a bad place to live.
It is strange, but always after visiting my home town I feel sort of depressed. There are changes, of course. There are new streets, new buildings, even new squares and play grounds, new cafes and restaurants, but somehow all in all I have an impression that the city is so chaotic, unstructured, crowded, noisy, hard to live. People are nervous. Public transport is horrible. The old residential areas are deteriorating. People complain about everything - how hard it is to live in Poland, to rise a child, to get a job, to live on a decent level. On the other hand all do have apartments, at least one car, but very often two, job, they go on vacation to Italy, Spain, Egypt. But one thing which is still so common is comparing us to other European countries. People think somewhere else is better, easier, nicer. In many cases it is true - at least comparing the life in Finland - but in some maybe not. And the question is what makes the Polish life so hard and what makes the Finnish life so easy and relaxed? 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Let's spring!

Spring is now official. Well, no wonder on May 20th... but I mean also a spring atmosphere around the town. Last Saturday there was a Restaurant Day in Helsinki. What it means is just everyone could establish a restaurant for one day. What does it mean in practice? You could make a stand somewhere in a park or on a street, cook or bake some meal, cakes, snacks, whatever you'd wish and you could sell them to the people. One of my friends established a "Mobile Cookie Jar", that is a huge basket full of home made cookies on a Christiania Bike and she was riding the bike and selling cookies for one day. We didn't make any restaurant, but we did try the goodies made by others. And it was fun. Some Mayan snacks, Indian vegan meals, Asian sweets, Eastern cookies etc. After such lunch my stomach was a bit confused, but I survived. Next Saturday there will be a Cleaning Day means again - everyone can become a seller for one day. Or a donor. So, you can sell or donate (to one of a few foundations like Fida, UFF) whatever you don't need anymore but what is still in a good shape and someone could use it. This time I'm considering to join the crowd. Most probably I will just donate some clothes and stuff. The spring/summer spirit you can see from people relaxing on the lawns around the town and from hundreds of bikers. There will be plenty of events but of course with a baby still depending on my breast it is hard to plan a night out. Talking about "night" - there is hardly any already. Yesterday right before going to bed I went out to our balcony to breath the fresh air and I was really astounded how light there was outside. And we have still a whole month to the longest day.
Oh, and I went to Poland for a week. Me plus the kids. I was a brave mom traveling by for the first time myself - first by car to Turku, then by plain to Gdansk. My in-laws were sort of shocked that I want to make it all by myself and that my husband should drive me there and help me, but actually it was a piece of cake. I packed the kids to the car in our garage and drove all the way (one strait like in Arizona highway) to Turku airport. And it is only two hours drive. Have you ever been there? Especially on terminal 2? It doesn't look like an airport. It looks like a wooden stable somewhere in the woods. Really. There is a forest around. You park right in the front of this building and walk inside. There is no people cause there are only a few flights from that terminal. One check-in point. One gate. One plain. And besides - my great daughter is just a perfect traveler. I love to travel in her company. She is alert, smart, smiley, ready to go.


Friday, May 3, 2013

May Day

There came May. And there was a may-Day or Vappu in Finland. Everywhere in the world people celebrate the Day of Labour, but in Finland people celebrate this day as it was a New Year's Eve. There is sparkling wine everywhere, people are picnicking in parks all over the city, the booze is everywhere and cheer mood too. We were considering going downtown and see all that silly crowd, but than I said - well, maybe our seven months old baby wouldn't appreciate that dizzy atmosphere. And so we just went for a long walk to the woods near by and we really appreciated the spring weather, the spring forest - green and free of snow! And again so beautiful with all the huge rocks and conifers around. And believe it or not on that special day we'd got a special weather. It was the warmest day so far this year. It was almost 14C plus full sunshine plus unfortunately strong wind, but in the forest we didn't feel it that much. And you know what, walking in the woods we actually noticed that this northern forests are quite smart. Because there are almost only the coniferous trees and on a ground there is moss - everything is green again the moment the last snow melts. It is smart in the climate where new green leaves come in mid May at the earliest. Anyway, my mood is of course much better now.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Spain


Yes, we were there. Our spring vacation. And it was one of a best things we did this winter. We were leaving Helsinki covered in snow (old, grey snow) and during that week most of it has melted. We came to Spain, to Barcelona and it was 20C in the evening on the airport! Flowers and palm trees! We rented a car and headed to Tossa de Mar, a wonderful medieval town on Costa Brava. Dream place it was. And there was again at least plus 20 every day. The beach, the sea, cafes, restaurants, wine, jamon, oh, even a date with my own husband! Yep, it doesn't happen that often these days. So, I appreciated it a lot and I was so happy and relaxed there. My parents came too, so we split the time with the kids. I would say, I'd love to make it more often. Even in March it won't be a bad idea. There would be already spring, while there is still full winter in Finland. And I wouldn't mind to wear a light coat. So, why I didn't bring back with me that summer attitude? I don't know. Somehow I am tired with everything and it is hard to enjoy my everyday routine. But I know it is a temporary mood. It always was. I'm not a pessimist by nature. Oh, anyway, I can hear and see a digger which came to remove the rest of the snow from our yard! Yeah! Hurra! Small things can make your day :)

Spring and stuff

I'm tired. I have no time for anything. Even for writing this blog! I feel like a servant. Every day same things. And not very exciting things. Tiding up the house. Doing laundry. Grocery. All the time of course there is nursing, changing diapers, playing with the baby. And some time in between is a quick shower, fast breakfast, coffee, emails, facebook, coffee, make-up. There is cooking, picking up our daughter from her daycare, playing outside or at home, giving a bath, cuddling to sleep. Free time!!!! A glass of wine or a gym, but usually I am so tired at this time that I don't enjoy those moments really. I feel that I always have to be alert - if anything happens I am there to help. Bad dream, night crying, pain - mommy's always there. Yes, daddy too, I can not say he is not present and helping. He is, but still, being a parent makes me feel exhausted. Maybe it is those recent months - harsh and longest ever winter, little baby, sleepless night for the last almost seven months, no help (like a grandma or nanny as some lucky mothers do have) and here you go. I don't have the usual spring energy and happiness. I don't share my last year enthusiasm of coming spring. Snow has melted (almost, on our yard there is still this disgusting dirty pile of it), birds are singing, little spring flowers are appearing from the ground but somehow I'm not enjoying it. I bought some flowers for our balcony and we just came back from a beautiful and warm, very warm Spain, but it didn't help to rise up my mood. After the second Finnish winter I am not so sure anymore that I love this country. More and more often I think that there are only three and a half years left of a contract and maybe after that we will move somewhere. I totally lost any interest in studding the language. I can see now more dark sides of this society and country than before. Every weekend while being on a walk we talk over and over again about living somewhere else. How about this country, how about moving there or there? Those are our regular topics. My husband never was overenthusiastic about Finland and now I guess I feel similar. Or maybe it is my tiredness.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The coldest March in 50 years

And it is not at all funny. Not, if you wake up in the morning on March 22nd and you check the temperature on your thermometer outside the window and you read -15C. Then you wear as warm as you can, take your kids to the metro station and you walk in this icy weather with an icy wind blowing in your face (the feeling is your face is going to fall apart) and you don't admire that snow anymore (you admired it for four months already, come on!)and you wonder if there are any possibilities that it would melt one day before the next winter comes... OMG, I guess I've never talked so much about weather as in this country. It is boring talking once again about how cold we have and how much snow there is around. It is maybe a sign of being desperate, a sign of longing so much for spring, a sign of panicking - what if it never comes!!!! Sun is already very strong. On our balcony we have a greenhouse. Today it was so warm that I sat there with both the kids, Wanda had her lunch there and she was only wearing her t-shirt. Quite a weird feeling. You sit there and it is really that warm and sunny, but you see the outside - full of snow and icy wind. Actually I have to take a picture. I should use my camera more often. Anyway, I am fed up of this winter. In one week we will have Easter. And once again, like last year - White Easter. Is it time to adjust or run away?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Constant crisis?

I am surrounded by people who live in a constant crisis. Relationships crisis. Those bad husbands, partners, those bastards who love you when they are in bed with you but a minute later they do love their wives again. Those marriages "from crisis to crisis". The marriages kept only for the sake of the children and for a so called goodness of the family life. Hm, well, interesting point of view by the way, but for some couples it is a reason - the family is most important - they used to repeat. But what family? With a husband who doesn't talk to his wife? With a wife who has boyfriends? That searching for "Mr. Right" and the searching of course is pointless, cause there is no Mr. Right. Only Mr. Wrongs are in abundance. All in all there is a constant crisis in relationships and there are no good marriages - this is basically a message I get recently. But... me myself don't feel like that. I feel happy with my partner who is my husband and my friend and just a good guy. Not a perfect one but not a bastard. Simply a nice guy. Simply a nice marriage. And we don't live from crisis to crisis. I think we never had a real crisis. Although sometimes I called our worse days "crisis" for a sake of being understood by other women, who seem to like the word. And sometimes I feel silly not experiencing crisis so I started to use the word to be more like the others. Oh, that's stupid! I shouldn't do that, but I feel stupid being the only one who is happy with what she has. And you know, no one likes people who are happy when everyone else lives in a crisis. Oh, how stupidly it sounds!!!! But now I think maybe it is something wrong with me? Am I normal? Maybe I have too low expectations and that's why I see my relation as such a good one? Maybe I am stupid? Blind? Deaf? Is it possible that my marriage is just fine? And that I am just satisfied being with the guy I chose for my husband? And that I don't look for another guy and I even don't have such thoughts? That's food for thought. Have a nice day!

Friday, February 22, 2013

A ray of sun and... optimism

My bad mood is over. I hope so. Has anything changed since my last post? . Well, the days are longer, much longer all of a sudden. When we wake up around 7-7.30 in the morning it is light already. I mean - it is getting light, but it is changing from one day to the other, every day the day light comes earlier. And we have long bright afternoons. Yesterday I played with the kids outside almost up to 6 o'clock and around this time it started to be dark. And it's sunny. This makes a huge difference. I even had to take my sunglasses! Yoo-pee!!!! Spring is coming!!! Not so fast. It's actually mid-winter still with tons of snow, an igloo outside our house built among others by my husband, couple of "mountains" on our yard (around 3 meters high, made out of snow, cause normally there are no hills on the yard). But the birds are singing, they already know spring will finally come. And what's best we planned our spring vacations. We are going to Spain in April. It really makes me happy.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Still half empty...

I shouldn't complain. I know it. I really know it. Just recently there was in "The Economist" such an optimistic special report about the Nordic countries. They talked about their great economy, standard of living, opportunities, creativeness etc. They focused mostly on Denmark and Sweden, but there were also lots of praise to Finland. And I know it. And you know that I really know it, but... but is the winter going to end some day? Last night it was snowing again. White, white and cold. And it wouldn't be that bad if not for the fact that I have to commute every day to downtown to Wanda's school. The baby doesn't like it either. On a car he loses his patience and cries. And I can not do anything while being in a traffic and having him right behind my seat. He doesn't like the metro either. Yesterday he was crying there too, so I had to take him on my lap (fortunately one guy was so nice and he gave me his seat, so I could sit down). Anyway I was exhausted and so were the kids. Today I started to think about either finding a new apartment closer to downtown or to find another day care... The latter one is much harder, cause we really like that place. But to move isn't easy too. Money as always is the problem. Well, anyway, I will survive. I just have a bad day. It is snowing again. And I'm appreciating another cup of coffee (still half full though :)) while my baby is taking his nap...

Friday, January 11, 2013

Glass half empty...

Yes. This is how I see everything right now in the middle of the Finnish winter. Is this the weather or some hormonal changes after pregnancy or something else I don't know, but my mood is just like it is: moody, gloomy, sad. The weather is bad. It is white, snowy, now came new white snow again so it covered the old grey one, but I didn't see sun for days and I know that for the spring I have to wait another at least three months. And that's a lot. When you go to downtown you can see more and more drunkards on the streets. It's disgusting, awful. And of course there are plenty of them in our neighborhood too, especially around metro station. Yesterday while being on a tram with my two kids there were three especially disgusting drunk bums. But I was surprised that no one on the tram said something although one of them almost puked on one young man. I would say something if I only could speak Finnish and I'm sure on a Polish tram people would react with a disgust to such a situation. In Finland they seem to be too discreet. And so such moments make me think over my all love to this country. I always saw glass half full from the very beginning. I appreciate everything what I get and experience here. But somehow recently I encountered couple of situations that made me ask myself: is this the place I want to live longer? I mean - longer that those five years as planned (and already 3 and a half are left). Those harsh and long dark winters, those bums everywhere (but really everywhere! like in the worst corner of a Central Railway Station in Warsaw years ago). But on the other hand every place have its pros and cons and probably after some time of living in one place you just start to encounter also the dark sides of the country. Well, I hope you have some better mood today and my gloomy post won't make you feel bad.

Monday, January 7, 2013

2013 - doesn't this look like a date from a sci-fi movie?

Time flies. Especially in December. Especially if you have to prepare Christmas, take care of your sick child and be a host for your family. So that was that. My daughter got very sick on December 15th, so she didn't go to the kindergarten for the whole pre-Xmas week. High fever, watching cartoons, reading books, taking care of a baby and trying to keep him away from the sick sister - impossible of course, so mostly praying for not catching the bug. And in a meantime (if there is any) doing some cooking and baking and shopping. It was quite a hard and chaotic week and I was worrying so much about Wanda. She was so weak, exhausted from the fever and she got an antibiotics, she lost appetite. You know - a really sick child. And she almost never gets sick. Last winter maybe twice she had some cold and nothing else. And than came the family. It was nice, but well... noisy. The kids got wild, adults got nervous, the baby couldn't sleep at all because of the chaos and noise. Everyone was coughing and so the baby started too. And so after everyone left we landed up by a doctor with our both kids. Wanda - ear infection equals antibiotics again and Tomaszek just this coughing and some syrup as a medicine. And so the days past up to the New Year's Eve. At home of course. Tired as hell. With a great glass of champagne. Today we finally came to our old rutine: Wanda's first day in her daycare, my husband at work. Me and the baby at home. And finally I have some time for myself. To sit with a coffee, to write some emails and this short note here. Oh, and I'm so sick of the winter!!!! Up to Christmas it was beautiful - white, the snow was so fresh and shiny. But then came the thaw and after that some frost again and so it's grey, the snow is dirty and icy, no sun at all. Gloomy time. I feel I need to go somewhere, at best without the kids. I need sun and vacation! And I know it is not possible in the nearest future.