20 March 2014

Halfway to titanic 2.0

we really have no nicknames as of yet. in my head, its still a boy, so im mentally calling it either 'him/he' or 'boy' or sometimes by the name ive already chosen (nope, im not sayin). daves nickname of occasional use seems to be '2.0'. also, once i started feeling the kicks, i started thinking of the (twilight) nickname of 'nudger' again. sue me, its a highly suitable name to what the early kicks feel like.

first glucose test (between 12-16 weeks): i made an 8:30a appointment at our health centers lab. i had a blood draw first and then had to drink a nasty super sugary raspberry liquid (in my opinion, much worse than what i had to drink in canada). while trying to gulp this stuff down, i was warned that it would likely spike my blood sugar so high i would get dizzy and barf, even while just sitting in the waiting room. sweet. enter panic attack. luckily i was able to lie down for 1.5 hours of the test. they took another blood draw 1 hour after drinking the stuff, and 2 hours after drinking it. thankfully, i passed the test, but i do have to do another one in 8 weeks.

-panic attacks (these started before florida actually when X was sick, i thought they were just related to that, but they havent disappeared). in the last several weeks i havent had hardly any challenging ones though, so maybe they are going away.
-im not as strongly nauseous anymore, but there is still a mild, persistent and irritating nausea coupled with the feeling of never being satisfied. its rather wearing down my patience, i dont remember it being like this for X for so long.
-ive noticed im not as much of a late night snacker as with X, though im hungry ALL the time during the day.
-i felt the first movements around 16 weeks this time. that was nice to break up the discomfort from the nausea, constant bloating (its here every day and has been since about 5 weeks, i think this ones sticking around), and the sore pelvis that have taken up residence on my permanent frustration list.
-arriving around the same time as the kicks, the braxton/hicks contractions. i get a few each day.

doula: i met with the coordinators of a volunteer doula program in the city. one coordinator was a good friend of one of my finnish friends. we spent a long time talking about my needs, my previous pregnancy, and what i know of canadian and US maternity care and doulas. i found out that all normal pregnancies in finland get a midwife at the hospital. no nurse(s), just your midwife and she is only assigned to ~2 women at a time. there are always doctors waiting in the wings in case a labor becomes more risky.

also, because normally your prenatal care is done at your health center by a public health nurse and sometimes a general practitioner, you arent getting the experience that many north american women have to get to know the person who will (likely) deliver your baby. so, the maternity hospitals have these things called 'fear clinics' where moms who are very anxious about the pain of labor or fear of complications, etc can come to these clinics and have one-on-one appts with the midwives at the hospital to help calm their fears and get to meet a potential person who would deliver their baby. otherwise, you normally only get the chance to tour the hospital before birth. further, once you are in labor, you call your hospital of choice and they tell you if they have room for you to come to that hospital (if yes they hold your spot until you arrive) or, if they are full, they suggest another hospital for you to try (im told that march and april are the most popular months to give birth here, so hopefully i'll be avoiding a 'sorry, we are full' issue).

also, one of the citys maternity hospitals is currently under renovations so hospital rooms are pared down at this time, but im told that the goal is to get all post-delivery rooms to be 'family' rooms where each family gets their own room to adjust to each other. this literally means 'family'. they said the rooms had/will have king sized beds, and you are welcome to have not only your spouse with you, but also your other children stay the night. what!? sweet. however, during the renovations its likely that you would share a room with another mom and spouses might not have the chance to stay. im told that each evening you stay in the hospital is 40 € (out-of-pocket, those who have mentioned it seemed somewhat offended that there was this cost), and usually you stay about 2 nights, though it depends on which pregnancy this is and how babe is doing of course.

side note: my assigned doula (a retired midwife) also volunteers for a group that supports single mothers, as well as for a group that provides counseling and help to women who have had abortions. she told me that 1 in 11 pregnancies in finland ends in abortion, and in estonia its 1 in 3!

pregnancy stages as parenting: during this pregnancys discomfort a thought occurred to me...the stages of pregnancy kind of mirror the stages of parenting (at least in my opinion/experience/understanding). in the beginning, both are mostly hard and physically/emotionally/mentally warping, and youre tired, and the rewards are minimal. in the second trimester (or toddler and young kid stage), you are mostly feeling good, feeling lucky, feeling happy. you feel the gift of life, you feel a part of something bigger. when you feel the kicks, you savor that special connection that only you and the kiddo share. in the third trimester, you are getting uncomfortable, your body (home) is too crowded to hold both parties happily. you and the baby (ahem, teenager) are prepping to physically separate and go your separate ways in the world. this process likely involves pain and yelling, but ultimately relief and the knowledge that this is what is meant to happen. and, if you like, the fourth trimester (or the empty nest)...this involves readjusting your life, from the one you knew before to what life looks like now...balancing the positives and negatives, redefining relationships with both your spouse and your kiddo(s).

celebrity babies arriving around the same time as me?: its hard to say, but it looks like maybe there will be babies arriving around my due date from these people: actress scarlett johansson, singer christina aguilera, host carson daly, model doutzen kroes, and susan sarandons daughter eva amurri. interesting to note, the three celebs who had kids around the same time as me last time (amy adams, tiffany thiessen, and paula patton) have not (yet) gone on to have another child.

dreams: i havent had another one that was baby related, but i did dream that dave got a job offer at USF (university of southern florida). apparently, i had allowed him to apply for the job when i was pissed i wasnt finding work here. then he accepted the job and i remember (in the dream) being somewhat okay with it at first because we would be closer to friends and family and travel for visiting would be easier and i could hope to find a job more easily. then, as the dream went on i got more and more panicky about the cons of the move. i suppose it actually turned into a nightmare. it was nice to wake up and remember that it was just a dream but that i had had the chance to dream-change our lives for a short while, and i didnt want to. kind of a re-affirmation of my desire to be here.

ultrasound: so, this was our second and final one. it was done at the hospital i hope to give birth at. its much closer to home and not under construction. it was clean and quiet, just the right kind of place. it wasnt high-tech or fancy or updated to the gills with modern furnishings, but everything we saw was functional and well taken care of. we waited a short time and then were taken into the room. the lady who did the ultrasound said she was a midwife. cool. i didnt know they did all these jobs. and she was very efficient (we were only there 20 minutes) but thorough. i felt like she gave us a very personal and detailed session, taking time to go slow and explain what she was looking at and for: the chambers of the heart, the veins in the umbilical cord, etc. it was a nice experience. not so business-like as it was in canada, and we even got two pics to take home.

she also said the baby was still about one week larger than the original due date of august 13 (they 'adjusted' my due date after the first ultrasound to august 7), and that perhaps the head was even a bit larger than that. so basically im at week 19 or 20...depending on what you believe. that is basically the same ultrasound 'finding' we had for X, according to the monster blog entry. so i would love to think that maybe this kid will come 2 weeks early too.

 (19/20 week fetus face-off; current pregnancy on left, X pregnancy on right)
(dont get too excited, the top left structure is a leg, kiddo was sitting cross-legged)

End of winter 2014 - City summary

'end of winter' (according to the calendar. today is the vernal [spring] equinox). i'll just do these new-experiences-in-the-city updates once a season i think. and im adding a 'weather' summary section, not to bore people to death or register early for geriatric benefits, but to be able to remind myself of the changes and weather conditions from year to year so that i can stay motivated if it seems like the grey will never go away.

in early january, it decided to go from grey, wet, and warm to changing overnight to sunny, (sometimes) snowy, and frigid. it snapped and held strong for over two weeks straight. im not sure when it broke but we left for florida in the frigid temperatures and came back to at-freezing mush weather. it then decided to return to the previous grey poop of a winter. did halifax follow us here? was there some kind of weather exchange program? both halifax and the north-eastern US had unusually cold and snowy winters. so weird. silver lining: i need to remember that daylight hours get noticeably more plentiful starting as early as the middle of february.

(our only two real fun-outside-in-the-snowy-winter days)

-kaisaniemi botanical gardens. we just did the indoor green houses on the grounds of the outdoor gardens. there is a fee for adults, but its a rather large and varied collection so its worth it, for those interested. the palm room and waterlily rooms were especially lovely. when we went in late february almost nothing was in bloom, but it was still nice to see leaves and green in the middle of winter.

(waterlily room)

-etelä haaga library. this one is on the west side of the city, but we managed to visit it because we were early to a birthday party nearby. its a nice library near a school and fun playground in a quiet part of town, the childrens section was a cozy and inviting place and there was a small but decent english section.

-pacifico brunch. a good price (15 euros per person) and lots of food choices (mexican inspired or traditional finnish food). the restaurant (which doubles as a bar/club at night) is spacious and accepts reservations but its definitely a hipster, young person in-the-know kind of place and i wasnt totally enamoured of the food. i still like our 'dylan' restaurant better. but it was nice to try this with friends for daves birthday.

(couch cuddles at pacifico)

-chicos. this place is a wanna-be generic american fare restaurant. the puddles of mayo and weird black (cola bbq?) sauce on my cajun burger were not inspiring however. the fries, while tasty, were not in any shape (canoes?) ive ever seen in america and Xs meatballs were swimming in the typical thousand island dressing/sauce they use on just about everything meat related here. its not a terrible place, just nowhere i would choose to eat, unless we were caught hungry and this was the only thing nearby.

finn notables:
-the few days when we actually got snow, you could see all the kids flow out of their homes at the same time. it was like someone pushed a button and all the natives, attuned to this signal, immediately obeyed and came out to frolic and play and FINALLY enjoy themselves at the same moment.

-while signing my work contract, i learned that finland actually has three health system choices: the general (free) public health service, the private health insurance sector, and, every employer is required to provide occupational health service (this can be organized by the employer if they are large enough, or contracted to private health insurance).

-in looking for new housing (our current landlord is finishing school in england this spring/summer and will be moving back into this place with his wife) we found out that the city of helsinki owns many apartments in various neighborhoods. these are need-based apartments, i guess youd call them, but anyone can apply for them. the list is long of course but if you are chosen to get one of these apartments the rents are lower than your neighbors (though not in a drastic way) and you are able to stay in these leases indefinitely. we have gotten on this list. however, in talking to some neighbors to see if they knew anyone who was moving out soon we got a lucky break. in the building behind ours, on the first floor, a slightly larger apartment (81 m2) is becoming available at exactly the right time. it is owned by a nice finnish family with three boys who will be moving away to their familys farm this summer. we are going to move in. X will get to stay at her daycare, we will get a bit more space and still have access to all the same stores, playgrounds, and friends as we did before. while its not a move to our favorite neighborhoods (vanhakaupunki or arabia), this is a great second choice because it means an easier transition for X and the apartments here are better priced. perhaps one day, when we both have steady jobs, we will get to move to our number one choice area.

a few more notes on finnish cuisine: so, they typically sell their ice cream in these rectangle boxes that need to be unfolded basically completely flat each time you want to get in them. they arent like the buckets with a lid sold in the US. and its amusing to see how ice cream is served at finnish functions. instead of an ice cream scoop, finns open up these ice cream boxes and cut slices for serving.

(opening the box; opened box)

also, weve been trying our hand at making more of the traditional finnish foods. i like the desserts, because they arent as sugary as north american sweets, but the savory dishes can sometimes be a bit bland. however, ive really come to love the reindeer with mashed potatoes and lingonberries. the salmon potato soup is a great cold weather comfort dish. and also, their cabbage/meat/rice casserole is surprisingly simple but tasty, with lingonberry sauce as well of course.

05 March 2014

First finnish employment!

so, i managed to get some interesting work in exactly the length of contract i need to fill the time between now and the baby arriving. im pleased.

after more emailing around the university, i was able to meet with a researcher in the public health department of university of helsinki. she met with the head of her research group and they decided they had a small and focused project for me, that included some money. yay i will to it! this means i am putting the unpaid research i was trying to start up on the back burner (thankfully with no hard feelings from the other researcher) and will be focusing on this until the new kiddo decides to make an appearance. this is a 4 month contract, technically starting april 1, working on replicating an already published dutch study on early adolescent tobacco and alcohol use and its influence on later use/abuse of cannabis. i get to do analysis as well as be first author on the manuscript, and i can do many parts of this from home. so that is very cool.

also, while speaking to a doula program leader (more on this in a later entry), i found out that her non-profit does lots of public health research and has like 80-100 researchers in contact with or working for them. they work on pilot projects to implement into finlands health and welfare systems. i asked her to spread the word about me and that im open to paid or unpaid work of whatever kind. this sounds like my most interesting lead outside of academia yet.

however...the long term prospect of jobs in the public health field looks spotty at best. an article in the major finnish newpaper 'helsingin sanomat' noted more federal budget cuts for public health jobs and research, and that even european health funding is focusing on ever smaller topics of interest. not sure what the future holds, but at least im flexible. trying to stay positive.

03 March 2014

Oscars 2014: A pleasingly traditional affair

this oscars seemed more even-keeled and traditional than most years, i liked it and hope they can stop switching it up and stay with this vibe, although, the fashion could be punched up a bit.

what i could get from youtube and people.com showed me lovely emotional speeches (jared leto, lupita nyong'o), a beautiful 'in memoriam' tribute complete with a song from bette midler (love her), some fun, warm humor from ellen, and basically some good, solid (albeit a bit tame) old hollywood fashion. i didnt expect to see so many neutrals and black dresses after the rather neutral and black golden globes, but at least there were some fun, rich colors out there and the neutrals that some people chose were so intricate and gorgeous that i was pleased overall. there really werent any 'worst' dressed people either, some were clearly just either not on their game, or were trying to stand out, but nothing i could give a whole-hearted 'worst dressed' to. so heres the summary...

best dressed standouts:

 (bette midler; cate blanchett; portia de rossi...i LOVED these embellished dresses. several others had them and they looked nice as well, but these were my favorite. i love seeing bette more and more as she ages, and cate had the perfect earrings to go with that dress)

 (kerry washington; lupita nyong'o; gabourney sidibe...while i havent followed the work of these ladies much [ive seen 'precious' and some movies where kerry was a bit player] i have taken note of them on the red carpet. kerry always chooses well, but compared to her fellow pregnant red carpet oscar walkers, this dress impressed me. it could have looked like a wrapped towel after getting out of the shower, but she carried it off. and lupita has been on FIRE with fashion. her orange leather dress at the NAACP awards was stunning. and this one is certainly befitting an oscar winner. congrats to her. and gabourney...with her weight it seems its been hard to find things to work for her, but this hits the mark perfectly for me. the color, the style, the fit, it has all the right notes.)

 (jennifer garner; kate hudson...definitely the best 'old hollywood' looks of the night. while there are elements of both dresses that are less than totally appealing to me, its their hair that really sells it. great choices ladies.)

 (jennifer lawrence; julia roberts...these mini skirts at the hips surprised me. normally i would hate them, but these were fun, simple, flirty. and the ladies who wore them looked youthful, fresh, and like they were having a great time. i think that helps sell it too.)

(jared leto; joseph gordon-levitt...the dudes. nailed it. handsome, young, fashionable. these guys are awesome.)

(harrison ford & calista flockhart; channing tatum & jenna dewan; brad pitt & angelina jolie...the classy couples. i love couple shots. this year there werent many that stood out, and honestly if you separate jenna from channing or angelina from brad i wouldnt even mention these people, but for me calistas dress was stunning. perfect for her petite body, embellished in the most feminine ways, her hair was just right...i think she might be my favorite of the night.)    

questionably dressed:

(kelly ripa; pharrell williams & wife helen lasichanh; liza minnelli...first: kelly is getting dangerously thin, shes in danger of being invisible soon. i think people should stop complementing her on her abs. second: pharrell and his so called 'bermuda tux' and his matching strangely attired wife just bug me. they are the embodiment of the music artist who gets to come to the oscars but is really just wildly out of their league. even lady gaga managed to control herself. come on. and third: liza minnelli is usually quirky, so i know she really just gets a free pass, but the pajama-style look, the bold color and the hair were a bit too much to go unmentioned.)

(olivia wilde; elsa pataky [with chris hemsworth]...the preggos. again, being pregnant myself and just imagining trying to outfit myself for an internationally scrutinized infamous award show canNOT be easy, so i shouldnt point fingers. but, well, these ladies just made me wonder. i mean there have been so many ways weve seen to beautifully cover a bump [one summary article, and another] and these ladies are gorgeous. olivias dress just has weird creases around her boob and belly area, like the dress wasnt fit properly and elsa [who is pregnant with twins] went with a weird v-neck, tight cinching seam under the belly, oddly bejeweled dress. sorry, i just didnt like these choices.)

after-party fashion:

 (emma heming & bruce willis; leslie mann & judd apatow...partying couples. bruce is just too cute, and he seems so happy with his new [growing] family. congrats to them. and leslie mann often looks nice but not always note-worthy. this dress was so fun and colorful with its polka dots. i love her lipstick and hair too. a big win for her after-party dress.)

(evan rachel wood...ive really taken a liking to her style in the past few years. this one looks great on her, as does the hair. kudos.)

**bonus: if looking for more fashion fun, a friend sent this along to me...a sketched list of the dress choices made by all of oscars 'best actress' winners. pretty neat.

12 February 2014

Tri-tanic 2.0

so, theres this new thing brewing...im cooking another human being. heres the low down...

in what can only be described as a move made by crazy people, we had tried a few times 2012 (while in the process of planning the move to finland). the universe concluded that that plan was asinine and possibly dangerous and was not willing to engage in such potential chaos. and a hearty thanks for that.

later, there were two things (maybe three) that motivated us to make the decision to try again, under more sane conditions. one: we found we really like finland and would like to make our life here. two: discovering that gluten was stealing all my energy, and then being able to regain that energy allowed me to finally understand how any parents in the world can possibly want to go back down the gauntlet. and lastly, maybe 2% of a motivation, was finding this greeting card at my now favorite finnish artists market stand in the spring of 2013 (before i was contemplating a second kid). the image was so beautiful and it was staring at me. i thought id be able to part with it once a friend with one kid became preggo with her second, but i couldnt think of who i could entrust to cherish such an image (they would need to have it professionally framed and mounted in a place of prominence in their home. as i intend to do). lol. so i kept it.

(the inspiring picture by viivi kemppainen)

anyway, we tried for a few months in the fall of 2013 and were down to the last attempt we were going to give for this second child idea. basically, ever. and that was okay with us since we hadnt pinned our future familys hopes and dreams on it. things would be fine either way.

then on the day i was expecting my period. nothing. i had cramps, but...nothing else. okay, weird. next day, expecting it...nothing. except cramps. okay. well, now its a holiday in finland, everything is closed. there is one 24-hour pharmacy in the city that is open and dave is heading to california for a week-long meeting tomorrow. it would be nice to have this information before he goes. so, after a two hour round-trip with X on public transit, i come back with some pregnancy tests. i pee on one. its positive...o...kay. this does not seem real. i decide to save the second one for the next day so that maybe the situation will have changed, or the test results will sink in more if i have two different days of results. well the second one was positive too. so, i guess we're looking at a due date around my birthday in august. and just like that, our life is being re-written. we'll see what comes.

first symptoms i noticed: feeling a bit dizzy and having a strong sense of smell. also, i was bloated right away. nice. that early mild cramping also went on for days. and when heartburn and nausea arrived early on, i recalled just why i hate pregnancy so much. in the beginning too, it was very easy to overeat and feel yucky. and the nausea came on most strong after lunch and continued on through to bedtime (at least this kid seems to give me relatively calm mornings). a big change from being pregnant with X, is that im craving salty things, BURGERS, pizza, and other fatty junk food. sweet things make me nauseous.

(key) preggo dream: dave and i were on a cruise ship and i asked to speak with the captain. i then asked him the name of the ship. he said it was named 'dylan'. i said i thought all ships were female (though, to be fair, in my world dylan is a perfectly reasonable name for a girl). he looked right at me and said 'its a boy...its the titanics brother'.

well shit. slap me with a more up-front warning why dont you universe. thanks. and, well, i guess thats the best description for the situation that can be made anyway. X nearly sunk me on her maiden voyage, though thankfully there were survivors, and those survivors certainly have an epic story to re-tell. now, i also looked up the titanic to see if it actually had other 'siblings'. and indeed she did. an older sister, the 'olympic', had a stable, decades long career. and then there was the younger sister, the 'brittanic', who as fate would have it, sunk as well, near greece, a year after launching. the positive angle to that fact, though, is that there were only 30 lives lost (as opposed to the titanics 1500+ deaths). bring on the easier baby?

flu season: so, once again, this winter there is an H1N1 outbreak scare. hey, cool, the last round of the H1N1 scare was...the winter i was preggo with X. awesome. and because we were going to travel to the US, i chose to get the flu shot this year, whereas perhaps, otherwise i wouldnt have. thankfully the shot here is the same as the US vaccine cocktail and included H1N1. and, our family decided to be plagued with all sorts of disease in the month of january and february so its the luckiest thing that i got that shot.

1st appt (10 weeks): so finland was ranked the best place in the world to be a mother/infant in 2013. they must be doing things right. when i called for an appointment, i discovered that they dont even want to see new moms until they are 8-10 weeks along. there was no interest to rush me in for a confirmation blood test. the fact of no period and a positive pregnancy test was fine, and so the wait until 10 weeks for my first appointment began.

at this first appointment, there was just basically lots of information and forms to fill out. i did a finger prick test to check hemoglobin levels (normal), a pee-in-the-cup test (the litmus said that maybe i had a small infection [i had a cold] so i was referred for a further lab pee test), blood pressure check, and (the dreaded) weight measurement. thats all. i got an appointment for the 10-13 week ultrasound, and my next office appointment at 22 weeks! now, for first time moms, there are a few more regularly scheduled office visits, but if you are on your second or later child, you get these long gaps where you arent seen for the routine check-ups. i think thats great. if things are going normal and healthy, i dont need to be measured and weighed a billion times, it just creates waste (time, money, resources), and potential worry in my opinion.

also, most of the early visits are with a public health nurse. i dont think i see an actual doctor until maybe 24 weeks or something? after the second/last ultrasound. and then i think you see the doctor more frequently toward the end. i also saw mention of midwives, at the hospitals, i guess. as in, maybe everyone labeled as a normal pregnancy gets a midwife and ob/gyn type of doctors are only given to the more risky patients? not able to confirm that.

labs: pee test (to check out that possible infection mentioned at my appt) and blood tests (to detect the risk of downs and other anomalys, as well as to check for things like toxoplasmosis [since we have a cat] and a few other things).

first ultrasound: i had to go alone since it was after X got out of daycare and no kids were allowed, dave had to stay with her. the hospital i was assigned to for the ultrasound was the farthest one away (since we needed it to be very soon because we were traveling to the US during the other part of the time frame), so i had a 1 hour bus ride. the place was confusing and under-construction but the staff were friendly. i needed the help of several people to guide me to the waiting area, but i eventually made my way. the technician was kind and informative and helpful. i got 5 pictures and my the next ultrasound appt made (at a different, closer hospital) and i went on my way.

(it was nice to actually get a picture to take home this time, since they werent offered when i had the ultrasound for X)

end of first trimester: im finding this nausea/heartburn pattern to be different. it seems to want to stick around much longer, but it isnt as intensely horrifying as it was for X. it still wears on my patience though. im finding that i now have almost no cravings, but aversions to sweet things for some reason and corn based things make me feel yucky. which pretty much sucks since i cant have gluten and i love mexican food. what i have found, oddly enough though, is that my symptoms seem to be somewhat alleviated by vegetables (and sometimes red meat) and exercise. there are even times when i find brushing my teeth after a meal makes the nauseating taste in my mouth subside. what a darn healthy baby.

24 January 2014

X files - 3.75 years old - Animal aficionado

no new revelations this month, its just been fun to watch her imagination take flight. she is a big animal lover and she is always thinking of ways to take care of her "friends" and incorporate new adventures for them based on new books we read or videos we watch. our cat has also become an active member of her animal friend squad, and luckily, most of the time the cat doesnt seem to mind. she also often recruits dave and i to play in these adventures, and while my patience and attention for them wanes far before hers does, it has been really great to see her creating such an interesting world.

obsessions: homeward bound movies (1 & 2), monsters, aliens, our cat (nutmeg)

picture books: the seven chinese brothers, the fantastic flying books of mr morris lessmore (and its beautiful oscar winning short film), frog is a hero, daisy comes home, harry and the bucketful of dinosaurs, doctor de soto, superworm, captain cat, over in the jungle, have you seen my new blue socks?, doug the bug that went boing!, owl babies, the snatchabook, the princess mouse, wizzil, the jolly postman, id know you anywhere my love, lenas sleep sheep, long winters nap, curious george visits the library, the saddest king, theres something spooky in my attic

longer books: the hat hunt, inspector hopper, man mountain, farewell to shady glade, poppleton in winter, amelia bedelia, henry and mudge first book, winters tales, tari the little balinese dancer, jo-jo the melon donkey, the selfish giant, nate the great, sammeli and the king of the forest [lapland book by lee d. rodgers], blue moose

special interest books: every thing on it, are you an ant?, the yoga game, a day in the deep, ocean [pledger], oceans [3D-explorer], making faces, professor astro cats frontiers of spacewhy oh why are deserts dry

audio books: harry and the dinosaurs, the arnold lobel audio collection, the enormous crocodile, more bedtime stories johnny morris

dreams/nightmares: her legs were getting ripped open but dave and i saved her. someone was crying and she wiped their tear with her mitten and her mitten was shining. sauce was being poured on all of us. a monster was stealing her books.

(official daycare pic. no smiling like a real finnish kid; swinging like a finnish kid)
(happy happy november sunshine joy at vanhakaupunki)
(major love for the cat)
(papa comfort)
(still nothing better than kid-in-bed pics. even better, when they are sleeping)

x-citing developments:
1. naps. over the 19 day holiday break, we had to re-remind ourselves that our kid hasnt been a napper in years. she does still occasionally nap at daycare though (this must be due to the added stress of not being in the comfort of her home/parents), so i think i tricked myself into thinking we might have some down time during the days sometimes. no, unless she is sick, got up way too early and/or had a very active morning she will not even accidentally fall asleep in the stroller.

2. physical

she is so helpful and becoming more independent these days, trying to do more herself. she will go grab the step stool from the bathroom to get to something she needs. thankfully, she will still ask for help when she needs it. i think it has meant less whining because shes more able to be of the 'take charge' mindset now. of course, if we werent nearby to potentially offer assistance when she tries these new 'big girl' things it could mean disaster and/or a huge mess, but with such a small apartment, someone is always around. and she helps us when we ask too (especially if you offer to clean or do a task with her, she will do it with no fuss).

she walks everywhere now, even long distances. we almost dont need the stroller anymore, which is a good thing of course.

3. personality

she seems go have gotten way more into imaginary play. she does voices for her "friends" (toys) and plays out a situation with them. probably as an extension of this, she has given her friends more names, responsibilities and roles in her life, and she has formed deeper attachments with her bed lovies.

during the holiday break it was amazing to watch her always be able to come up with something to fill the time. if you were present in the room with her, just 'being' there, she was always able to think of the next thing she wanted to do and happily started doing it without any suggestions or creativity from us. its really amazing to me that she is truly never bored. actually, id say that once i stopped being such a spazz parent from the early days she has been able to fill her days quite easily, especially if i wasnt the one leading the activities or games. im glad weve been able to support her ability to entertain herself.

one day, she was tired at dinnertime. she was crying about something. we let her have her cry. she started to finish up and was talking about something food-related, so we joined in and offered some food choices. she stopped us, saying she wasnt ready for food, she wasnt finished crying. she took another few seconds, then asked for a hug. and that was it, she was done with her cry and went about eating calmly. that was the coolest. it was really great to see her manage her own emotions: to vocalize it, get rid of it, and move on.

4. learning

reading. im certain shes reading now, in some capacity. i point to words in stories and she can read many of them, and she will try to sound out words she sees. one day, she read my handwritting off the shopping list and announced an item we needed without my ever mentioning it verbally.

she can pick out when someone is speaking french (on the bus, or on videos). i cant believe that her brain can do all this language stuff (i mean i can, but its so different from my childhood experience with languages). even though she isnt often exposed to french, nor are her parents good at speaking it when they try to read her stories, she can still pick it out. so, we listen to some french kids music at home and she has watched a few videos of "petit ours brun".

5. anecdotes

-she said to me one day: "im feeling a little mixed up today. my head is filled with both happiness and sadness, but my heart is filled up with love."

-we got a box from a package of bike tires that were shipped to dave. it was big enough for X to totally fit inside. she declared it to be her home, and herself to be a 'box-homer'. she was in the box and said "what are you doing in your home today?" (to dave and i). i said "not much, what are you doing in your home?", she replied "just snuggling with my friends. box-homers are lazy."

6. baby-related anecdotes (this was before we told her i was pregnant):

-while playing with her baby doll she told me it was a newborn. she said "yeah, i saw some liquid leaking out and the baby came out of me and i gave her a bath and brought her over here." i swear we have had no discussions about this process. its possible that she got this from watching milo and otis (the mom cat and dog give birth in that movie), but weve only watched that once or twice maybe.

-while preparing her snack one day, she started to tell me about how she was growing babies. one named 'whale' died and she had another named 'alexander'. she then said 'look, my breasts are growing because i have a baby growing in my tummy.' she also told me she was going to name this new baby 'whale', after the previous one who had died.

momma mentionables:
1. ive now got myself a few friends here. a finnish mom friend (she is married to an aussie [we did thanksgiving with them]), and an ex-pat american friend who is a michigander, a curser, and a sewing machine queen. shes agreed to teach me a bit of what she knows while we chat and sew at her kitchen table. ive also met up with another blogger mom here. she is a polish ex-pat who lived in america for a bit. i found her several months before we moved here and have been casually chatting with her ever since. weve only had a chance to meet once, but im happy to have some more friendly 'neighbors'. and as much as facebook, blogging, and the internets can make me cringe...i would have met NONE of these fabulous people without it.

2. photo book. i finished a photo book of Xs third year. i love the finished product but those things are just so time consuming. i think ive got one more photo book to do before im all caught up.

12 January 2014

Golden globes 2014 aka 90s fashion flashback

eesh. well, i didnt see the lovely ladies of comedy's hosting skills, so hopefully they were talented enough to take the focus off the yucky fashion.

the dress color choices this year appeared to be: black, white or red, and in the style of the 90s, if at all possible. seriously between the boring, boring black dresses and the metallic embellishing nearly everyone, it basically meant that all one had to do was wear a different color and my eyes perked up. well, not quite. some who went for color made some bad choices and often those bad choices also looked rather 90s to me too. seriously hoping this trend burnt itself out and the oscars will show some nicer attire.

small note about the actual awards and work nominated this year. i read many reviews, interviews, and saw clips of many of the movies and shows nominated. i didnt actually see any of the movies however, and not much of the nominated the tv stuff. also, in terms of speeches, from what i could find youtube everyone was totally shocked and nervous when they won. and wow...that jacqueline bisset acceptance...um, too much alcohol maybe? not sure.

best dressed:
amy adams and emma watson. rah rah rock the red. emma is young and i just loved the fun and edge in her style.

julie bowen and taylor swift made nice red choices too, though i dont really care for their professional work.

jennifer lawrence and jared leto. black and white perfection. i like these two and i cant find more to say than these styles look amazing on them.

reese witherspoon, kate beckinsale, and laura dern. reeses dress is plain but fits well and her hair adds something nice (though i was none too pleased with her DUI behavior last year). i dont think its possible for kate to do wrong, her face, hair and body make it impossible. on anyone else i wouldnt like this dress. and laura dern...i dont know, the animal-ness of her hair and the animal print vibe of her dress, the fit of it and the fact that she is 46 years old with 2 kids...im giving this to her.

channing tatum and jenna dewan. robin wright and ben foster. kyra sedgwick, sosie bacon, and kevin bacon. couple shots are fun and i love the tatums, fingers crossed they stay together, plus im secretly loving her new show 'witches of east end'. robin wright is a stunning woman, just as michelle pfeiffer is. im not in love with her new future husband choice, but we'll see. aside from more bony rib cage than seems healthy, i like her look. and the bacon family always seem fun and down-to-earth. i liked their daughters dress choice.  

worst dressed:
yikes, rough on the red. bérénice bejo and tina fey. i have no idea why bérénices dress has some kind of 1990s secretary jacket overtop of it. yuck. and no thank you for the flowers tina. ive seen you in much lovelier things. 

megan mullally and andy samburgs wife [joanna newsom]. first, i had no idea megan was married to nick offerman! second, this hair and dress are AWFUL! and joanna...i dont know you, but im certain you dont need to wear a scarlett o'hara reject to get noticed.

kaley cuoco and zooey deschanel. eesh ladies. you are young and adorable, and especially for zooey...i would just like to pretend you didnt even attend the award show this year. memory erased. try again next year.

paula patton and zoe saldana. i dont like the shoes, ruffles or earrings paula. and zoe this dress has not one thing going for it, it doesnt even look like it was finished. luckily no real harm done since i dont really enjoy their professional work either.

but i LOVE these two. normally. drew barrymore and sandra bullock. i do thank them for wearing color but it just didnt work for me. drew is so pretty as a pregnant lady but the sheer gauze rarely works for me, and those colorful leaves just dont add anything. sandy...i like the pockets, i like the hair. the dress just doesnt do anything for you, im glad you tried though. 

notable nice:
julia roberts in a flair of menswear. with her body and age i thought this was actually great. she has certainly made some very bad fashion choices over the years, so i was pleased to see this. 

1990 and 1991 julia. in menswear. you see what i mean. this year she looked fabulous!

1990s golden globe fashions that could have walked the 2014 red carpet:

1990 cybill shepherd and 1998 angelina jolie. shiny, metallic.

1997 courtney love and 1997 madonna. plain black.

1995 kate moss and johnny depp & 1996 brad pitt and gwyneth paltrow. black and white and shiny. boring.