Monday, February 23, 2015

Time flies and my kids are growing...

When we moved to Helsinki Wanda was same age as Tomek is now, or even couple months younger. She was two. Now he is two and four months. Sometimes when I go to some places where I used to go few years ago with two-years-old Wanda I have this strange feeling. Because I am the same, the kid is same age again, but it is not the same kid. Recently I had to go to a store in Espoo, I was looking for a bed for our son and he was with me. While driving there I thought - wait, I did this before, this driving to that particular store with a toddler on a back seat. Or when I am playing in those playparks downtown or in our neighborhood I have this strange feeling again and again. Same me, same places, same age kid, but not the same one. Time flies. Year after year. It is hard to believe that we have been in Helsinki for three and a half years already. When we came here with a five years initial contract we thought it will be long. Now we are pretty sure we will stay here another few years, maybe another five, maybe more and now this time perspective doesn't seem to be too long. Just that. Life goes on. Friends are moving back to their home countries or somewhere abroad. Yes, just recently we had to say good bye to our super good friends from Mexico. She was the first person I got to know in Helsinki and we became friends immediately and our daughters as well. All those play dates, all those chats, all those girls-nights-outs and now, bye, and maybe see you in few years somewhere. Sad.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

My little boy. Oh boy!

Being totally dedicated to all sorts of machines and noises. To everything possessing a mechanism and being able to move, to spin, to ride and to make a noise. First it was his sister's doll pram. He was barely a sitting seven-months-old baby when he discovered that when you turn down the pram, you can freely make the wheels spinning. Amazing! Fun! Then there came duplo and some wagons, which can be attached to one another. A train! A car! Cars! Then there came the never ending exploration of the outside world with all its bulldozers, snow plow trucks, dump trucks, diggers, lawn mowers! Yes, that is. A lawn mower is a love from a first sight. Don't you think it is an extraordinary machine? It must be. He is absolutely fascinated by them. What he usually constructs from duplo? A lawn mower. And believe me, he is really an inventor. His own lawn mowers not only can cut the lawn, but in a very clever way he figured out, that such a tool should also water the lawn. So, when you take a look on his inventions, you can see on one end the cutting tool and on the other end the watering tool. He is very eager to explain it to you and present how it works. Oh yes, those lawn mowers have one disadvantage: they are loud. Quite a loud. The sweet noise of those machines comes form my beloved son's throat and for the first few minutes is cute, for the next few funny and for the next whatever just unbearable. The lawn mower can be anything. A stick, a box, an empty garbage bin (why not?), even a stroller or a push-wagon. The other fascination are a hammer and a saw. Before he got his own tool box, he used to built his tools from blocks or playing with those tiny lego tools (a drill for example) or pretending something is a hammer or trying to "steal" a real piece from his dad's tool box. Scary! So, the Santa decided for the goods sake our son is going to find one tool box under a Christmas tree. Some nights all the tools are going to sleep with theirs owner. Resting quietly next to his pillow. Other nights our little boy chooses to take to bed all the construction machines: a truck, a digger, a bulldozer and a crane. We need to read about fire trucks, which he calls in Finnish - palo auto. And for Christmas when I was doing with him some arts and crafts (usually he is far from such activities) and asked him what he'd like to draw on a Christmas card for grannie, he replied immediately: a digger!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Long and sunny days

It is way too early to assume spring is in the air, but for sure the darkness is over. Just yesterday I suddenly noticed that still at 6 in the evening is quite light. The sun is shining for the last few days and the blue sky makes you feel happy and energized. With this new energy come some thoughts about our current work/living/school situation and some thoughts about future changes. Time flies and in one year we will have to decide what school our daughter shall start. She is now an English speaker, so the most natural way is to continue the English path. But there are not many schools or to put it differently there are two in Helsinki (Ressu and Maunula) and one in Espoo (they move to Suurpelto in August). And I am talking about public schools with no fee and for kids who don't speak Finnish. There are few more bilingual schools but unfortunately the kid has to pass a Finnish language exam to get a place. Actually I don't get that policy at all, because on the other hand our non-Finnish-speaking girl could go to a regular public all-Finnish school in the area of residence and she would get a supporting teacher and would take additional Finnish classes. All to catch up with other pupils. But for some reason she is excluded from those bilingual classes, although she could at least communicate very well in one of the teaching languages. But anyway, if you don't want to get bankrupt you won't apply to International School of Helsinki, the private institution following the IB curriculum. And besides, if you are lucky enough to live in a country best known (after the Nokia collapse) from its school system you don't pay for private education. So right now we have started with my husband a discussion about our moving according to the kids school. It would be great not to commute every day half an hour on a metro, bus or tram back and forth like we do for four years now. Having a school within a walking distance sounds like a dream. We have already checked Suurpelto and well, have mixed feelings. It looks a bit like it sounds and the meaning of the name is Big Field. Yes, a big field indeed, but also growing quite fast and most probably when they open the school in August there will be some more life coming. Ressu and downtown living would be cool, but unfortunately not with our current budget. And Maunula? Well, I don't have a good opinion about that city part, sounds for me even stranger then Espoo. But well, soon we will figure out something. I hope it will be a good decision. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Mastering ice-skating

Now we are all into it. The whole family on skates. 
No. 1 is our daughter:

No. 2 and 3 my husband in connection with our son:

No. 4 me myself hidden behind the camera. No picture.

I am really proud of Wanda. She is mastering the skills, she enjoys the activity, she is eager to learn and she is really good at it. And me too. The first time after such a long break was tough, but I'm doing better each time. And if you have you own ice-skates the sport is really easy to make and cheap and doesn't require much effort. Ice-skates rinks as I said before are scattered around Helsinki. We have the one pictured above in our neighborhood. It is a so called natural rink, what basically means, if the temperatures go above zero it melts. But it is mainained by the city, so it is cleaned from snow, there is a building next by where you can change. If you would like to check, if there is one in your area look at this link: Natural Ice-Skates Rinks. There are also few artificial, which means they are somehow kept frozen even if the weather condition tells you the ice should melt. You can find them here: Artificial Skating Rinks. We used to go to Brahenkantta, but be careful and first check the web site for the opening hours. On the weekends they close the rink in the middle of the day. There is also a coin machine and you are suppose to pay 3 euros for the entrance. Once when I went there it was out of order and there was no one there to charge you. For the "posh" ice-skating visit The Icepark located on the Rautatientori, that is Central Railway Station square. Adults pay 6 and kids 4 euros, you can rent the skates for 6 euros too. And I think they lowered the prices comparing to last year. It is a nice place especially if you live downtown, are coming with friends, since there is a quite cosy cafe and music. But of course the rink is not very big, so if you are an ice-skate savvy you probably would like to have more space for pirouettes. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Snowy winter is back again!

What a lovely winter day! Piles of snow. White world. Finally! We spent half a day on our yard building an igloo. Hard work it was. I can feel my back and arms. Today is this perfect kind of snow, wet and sticky. It's about 1C above zero and no wind. Perfect condition for outdoor play. We came home all wet (but not inside, the good winter outdoor clothes stayed almost dry even after three hours of playing in wet snow) and exhausted, but with happy kids and ourselves too. This is what we have built. It still lacks the proper roof, but this is the hardest part, maybe later, or maybe there will come some other dedicated fathers with their hungry for snow-home kiddos and will cooperate with us. Hopefully the weather will stay like that and the temperatures will drop below zero.