01 March 2015

March = Maaliskuu

welcome to march (maaliskuu in finnish)!

for this month there is actually no direct translation of 'maalis' , but the word 'maa' means earth or ground. in march the snow first starts to melt and the dirt/earth peeks out again. and as with the other two months this year, march is aptly named. we have been melting around here and the moss is pretty vibrant against the remaining snow and grey boulders. spring is in the air... :)

28 February 2015

February 28 - kalevala flag day

this flag day is in honor of the first publication (1835) of the national epic poem, the kalevala. it is also generally celebrated as finnish culture day.

it was 'written' by elias lönnrot, a physician, botanist and linguist. apparently, he collected the finnish folk songs/stories for the kalevala in between his studies and various posts as a doctor. from what i gather he made about a dozen trips to the karelian (western) border area of finland. apparently he didnt so much write the epic poem as weave the bits of songs/stories he collected together.

the collected work of finnish mythology has 50 poems. there are stories of creation, magic, love, war, etc. i havent had a chance to read a translation, though apparently 5 english versions exist. its on my list, i just couldnt get to it in time this year. maybe next year i can ramble a bit about my reading of it.

we have, however, read a childrens book that turns one of the poems stories into a picture book (illustrated by barbara cooney, of 'miss rumphius' fame), called 'louhi, witch of north farm'. beautiful book. i bought it and highly recommend it to anyone interested, its definitely very finnish.

it should be obvious that the poem is very important to finns and their culture, it tells the tales of them and their lands and beliefs after all. it still influences modern finns and finland and im sure it will continue to do so for at least another 180 years.

22 February 2015

Oscarsss Ssstyle: sleek, sophisticated, safe

and weve come to the close of another awards season. the oscars dresses were lovely this year, but its certainly a polarizing time when people tend to either go safe or stupid. this year most people went safe, and thats okay. id say perhaps more than most years people looked very mature and sophisticated, demanding that they be taken seriously. i'll bite. but, it did make it hard to find anyone to call a favorite standout.

(cate blanchett nails the hair, makeup and gorgeous necklace. i wish i could see more detail on her dress but its a lovely silhouette; rene russo just popped back on the scene for a minute with her feminine waves. i like it. and keira knightley has schooled everyone on how to do award season while pregnant. she wins.) 
(other notables: rosamund! THIS is how you dress a body, post-baby or otherwise. the hair, makeup, and dress work for you. not a big fan of the slit, but i can get over it. and emma stone, i dont know what to do with the color exactly, but it goes nicely with your coloring and lipstick. love the dress detail and hair. and gwyneth paltrow, youve gotten so weird in recent years and this color is obviously a nod to your iconic [and boring, in my opinion] 1999 dress. but, the fit of the dress and the color work for you. the flower reminds me of charlize therons 2010 flower boobs, or paula pattons 2014 fabric waves, but its not totally offensive here) 
(jlo, it was a step up from your golden globe dress and i thought it was lovely...and then i saw it on another person and felt a little bad that it had to share the spotlight [with robert duvalls wife])
(couples were just kinda 'meh' this go around. sophie hunter [plus baby bump] and benedict cumberbatch looked sleek. channing and jenna tatum looked sleek and sophisticated as well)
  (jen, this dress looks like chic beach wear. blah. reese, the waist area is nice but the rest is blah and the slick-parted hair looks kinda greasy. julianne moore...come on, this is shapeless and looks like a disease under a microscope)
 (musical mistakes aka red herrings. singer lady gaga terrifies with those radioactive-protective red gloves. singer solange knowles looks like a she-devil. behati prinsloo [with singer husband adam levine] also looks like a disease under a microscope)
 (post-baby bodies. again, i dont want to point fingers, i want to applaud them in other ways, but their dress choices arent a reason. scarlett looks lovely in green and i like the hair and makeup, but the necklace and boob area are not doing it. zoe saldana just had twins. her hair and body look great, this dress color and boringness arent flattering. her vanity fair party dress was much more lovely.)

05 February 2015

February 5 - runeberg flag day

happy birthday Johan Ludvig Runeberg!

so finland has a number of these 'flag days' that commemorate their most beloved/famous people. runeberg day is the first that comes each year and perhaps peoples most favorite, though i think this is primarily due to the dessert baring his name that can be found in the stores around this time.

anyway he was the national poet of finland and lived from 1804-1877. he wrote in swedish and mostly about rural finnish life and its hardships. perhaps his most famous poem of all is called 'the tales of ensign stål', about the finnish war of 1808–09 with russia (this was when sweden lost finland to russia). anyway, i looked to see if the helsinki library had anything by him in english...nope. this is a bummer, but perhaps i can read something in english from the other flag day people that come up throughout the year.

as for the desserts, it was said that he ate these 'runeberg tortes' (as theyve come to be known) each morning for breakfast. ive always seen them packaged as two, so im not sure if he ate two each morning or if its just convenient packaging. whatever, they are delicious. a dense spiced, almondy kind of cake with raspberry jam on top encircled by powdered sugar icing. i even found a gluten-free variety this year. devoured. i am however always startled by their nipple or breast-like appearance (being sold in twos doesnt help the matter)...then again, the favorite national snack of rice pies (riisipiirakka) looks alarmingly like lady parts...oh finland, you may not rival the french in tasty delicacies but you can match them for sauciness!

(gluten-free runeberg tortes)
(rice pies)

01 February 2015

February = Helmikuu

so here we are, at the top of another month. time is flying by.

this month (february) is called helmikuu in finnish. 'helmi' means 'pearl'. this refers to the ice on the snow and tree branches that form when things temporarily melt during warm spells and then re-freeze. of course its a perfectly suited description of the weather and scenery this month.

28 January 2015

Dinner party for the growing lab

daves research group is growing and he had a visitor from germany in the lab this week too, so we had a dinner party. everyone enjoyed themselves.

we made it easy on ourselves and planned a mexican do-it-yourself dinner, our most typical meal made for guests. X was excited to have people over, some of whom she remembered/knew (jorina and matthias). matthias was back in town (he works with daves phd advisor who is now in germany) and there is a new member joining daves research group (post-doc lars), as well as a masters student we hadnt met yet (niclas).

to prepare, X chose to have her hair braided and wear her rapunzel dress. she also made signs for the bowls of salsa we set out. lol. she did take a while to get comfortable when the first guest, lars, but once more people showed up she felt more at ease. she even wrote an impromptu thank you note for matthias because he had given us chocolates as a gift (earlier in the week dave had brought these home). everyone was very kind and made interesting conversation and X was able to occasionally participate and they patiently listened to stories of her toys before she said good night.

X went to sleep easily, thankfully, and the group mercifully went home at 10p. we cleaned up before bed and were tired but happy to have such nice people over.

the next day X said she would like to have parties every 3 weeks. lol.

26 January 2015

The mr. Y grows - 6 months old - What ever happened to predictability?

the nursing, the napping, my evening sanity? this whole month was whack (though, to be fair, this kids schedule has never been what could be called 'predictable'). in terms of demeanor, Y was pretty nice about the whole thing, but i cant be so pleasant on so little sleep. he became more of an independent member of the family this month though, growing bigger, learning to sit, joining us for food at the table. i just cant believe how chill he can be on so little sleep. he and X, two sides of the same coin. i guess i make kids who love being awake, alert, seeing, doing, going. zzzzzzzz.

(beefy bro; pretty prince)
(food!; sitting!)
(sister stares)
(love grabs)

-5 month nurse appt. 18.5 lbs, 27.5 inches tall, and his head growth seems to have stabilized. got 3 vaccines and was fine about the it.

-6 month growth spurt. holy crazy batman. eating, eating, every 45-90 minutes. day and night. literally.

-first teeth. got his bottom 2 teeth at around 5.5 months.

-special appointment at the childrens hospital. this was mostly to check his head size and confirm things were fine. we had really smooth, fast service. just to be safe, they scheduled an ultrasound in a couple weeks.

-6 month appt. 20 lbs, 27.5 inches tall, head growth stable.

-he sits in high chair at the table. he is trying more food, but we arent actually doing 'feedings' yet, just offering tastes of things still. he has started lunging at things he really likes (sweet potato, pears, beans)

-sleep. before his wackiness he was actually only waking 1-3 times overnight, that is no longer happening. i dont think ive mentioned it but with him we arent co-sleeping. i tried but it doesnt seem to be his thing. he never figured out or liked breastfeeding laying down so being next to me isnt helpful, i still have to pick him up and nurse sitting up. plus he seems to like his own bed, which is next to me. he is a very quiet sleeper and he pretty much doesnt stir. very different from X.

-us citizen in waiting. in january we had our US embassy visit. oh man. our country is something else. we arrive 15 minutes early, expecting to have time/space to get the kids fed and comfortable before we have to do boring/serious interview/paperwork stuff. nope! we are forced to wait outside on the stoop in front of a high gate surrounding the embassy and its guard shack (its a blustery morning, several degrees below freezing). you talk through the bulletproof glass and say you have an appointment and give them your passport for check-in. then you wait out in the cold until they call you in, one at a time, to go through security. if you have children with you, only one child per parent is allowed to enter at a time. so we sit outside for 15 minutes shivering and trying to keep Y from melting down in hunger and X from screaming from temperature discomfort (we cant really go anywhere or walk around to keep ourselves warm because we are waiting to be let inside). finally they allow one set of us in, dave and Y go first. then X and i get to follow. after we pass the security point we are ushered back outside across a small courtyard, into the actual embassy building. there we are guarded by a worker and wait for our name to be called. we go in to the interview room and the paperwork process is actually fairly quick and straight forward. they dont give us a hard time. we are getting Y his citizenship, SSN, and passport all at the same time, as well as getting X her renewed passport. then we have to go back to the waiting room and wait with the general pool of people to sign additional documents and to pay. while waiting during this part, we witness several foreigners (foreign to the US) attempting to get visas for study or whatnot get denied. eesh. we are quite the country.

-he is very calm, and can already do long-ish periods where he plays and entertains himself

-he likes his cheek stroked sometimes to go to sleep

-he seems to stroke his hair a bit while sleepy, like X does

-very physical. he pulls toys off his bouncy chair's toy bar and grabs onto the sides of his chair and squirms out onto the floor when the opportunity presents itself

-he LOVES grabbing his feet

-he sits (though is still not always stable at it)

-on his belly he appears to be trying early crawling. he pulls his legs under himself and tries to reach toward something in front of him

-he plays his own version of peek-a-boo (he turns his head away from someone and then looks back, smiling. or, he pulls his shirt over his head when getting a diaper change and then peeks at you)

-he found his voice to make fake coughing and shrieking noises. joy.