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!