15 May 2015

updated (a bit)!

im doing it. i got a few entries out. i hope more will follow soon.

here are the most recent out-of-order posts:
-daves birthday
-end of winter summary
-mr Y is 8 months

still 7 more things in line.

12 May 2015

May 12 - johan snellman flag day

aka, the day of finnish identity.

johan snellman was an political philosopher and an influential figure in shaping the finnish identity. he was born in stockholm on this day in 1806 but moved to the finnish territroy when he was young. he became a popular lecturer at the university of helsinki. he self-exiled from 1839-1842 due to the government trying to censor and control oppositional thoughts among academics. when he returned to finland he published papers encouraging the rise in the finnish language and culture from peasant status to a respected national language and culture. he apparently coined the phrase:

'Swedes we are no more,
Russians we cannot become,
therefore Finns we must be'

he did become a prominent finnish senator, however, he ultimately had to resign in 1868 due to his radical reputation and inflexibility.

01 May 2015

May = Toukokuu

happy may day!

okay, its already getting hard for me to keep the finnish months in memory (april is a hard one!) but im still interested in the translated meanings, so here goes.

may = toukokuu. a found a few meanings for 'touko': planted, growing crop, and/or springtime field work. all rough equivalents. and indeed, it is a good month to get those seeds in the ground. we have crazy amounts of sunshine going already (i sit here at 9p and the sun is still streaming in. and the birds start singing at something like 3a) and the temperatures are starting to stay steady, and...well, our season just isnt very long here. grow little plants, grow!

11 April 2015

O can-a-da[ve], leave our home and (not) native land? Yes.

dave had some work to do with several colleagues in canada over his easter break from teaching, so he went for 8 days. the rest of us stayed behind.

he left the day before easter and so i started off with 3 non-daycare days with the kiddos. the stores were not even open on sunday and only partly on monday. but, it really helped that Xs friends family invited us on their boredom busting excursions to an indoor playground and the farm. it was tiring but really helpful to bust through the afternoon sluggishness and propel us through to bedtime with tired bodies that were happy to go to sleep.

(smiles at the indoor playground)
 (waiting at the bus stop on our way to the farm)

after that, it was actually easy to get through the rest of the week, there was daycare and routine as normal and then we just had to wait until dinner the next saturday for dave to come home. he brought goodies for us so that was fun. and the solo parenting was over without much fuss. X had a small amount of trouble adjusting to him leaving, she had some night terrors in the beginning and some tantrums, but then we got sorted out and things were pretty smooth. thankfully!

 (pretty happy playing together)
(he started working on crawling!; smiles)

09 April 2015

April 9 - mikael agricola flag day

on this day, the founder of literary finnish (mikael agricola) died and elias lönnrot, the collector/organizer of the epic poem, the kalevala, was born. the day is also celebrated as the day of the finnish language.

mikael agricola was a clergyman born in 1510 (died in 1557). when he was young, there was still no standard form of written finnish, only spoken. he wanted to translate the new testament. after writing to the swedish king for a stipend after his religious studies, and being granted it, he set to work on his translation. he is known as the father of literary finnish.

since today is also another celebration of the kalevala, sort of, i thought i would summarize below some of the major stories from the epic. since kalevala day in february, ive had a chance to read 4 childrens versions of the stories and can now speak to some of the general themes.

books i read:
-canine kalevala (best choice for a good summary)
-heroes of the kalevala (best choice for something a bit more thorough)
-louhi, witch of north farm (best choice for beautiful drawings of finnish scapes)
-the maiden of northland (most closely [of these choices] resembles the poetic style of the original epic)

from these 4 books, the same stories are repeated with various adjustments and levels of detail. here is a summary of the overarching parts of the stories that were consistent...

väinämöinen - the wise old 'magician', of sorts. his mother basically created the earth and water, and he was the first person on land, he made it habitable. in the stories, he is often looking for love (and not succeeding), playing enchanting music, or making voyages that require him to use his magical chants.

ilmarinen - a faithful friend to väinämöinen. he is a strong, hardworking blacksmith who forges the fabled 'sampo' mill. he also 'gets the girl' (of the north) in a competition against väinämöinen.

louhi - witch of the north. she is like the leader of her people, in what is essentially lapland. her people are at odds with the people to the south-east where väinämöinen lives. she has magical powers and often uses them for making mischief, notably against väinämöinen and/or ilmarinen.

joukahainen - an arrogant, young 'magician' who challenges väinämöinen a few times and loses.

lemminkainen - a reckless, though enthusiastic, young man whose efforts to find adventure or to be helpful often end in disaster for himself and those around him.

sampo - a magic mill that ilmarinen forges for louhi as a gift to offer for her daughters hand in marriage. the mill produces endless amount of flour and/or coins. louhi locks it away in the mountain and doesnt want to share it with väinämöinen and his friends, they try to steal it from louhi, it ends up at the bottom of the lake and no one gets it.

kantele - a harp-like instrument väinämöinen creates from the jaw bone of a giant pike that is killed on a voyage to the north. when väinämöinen plays it, it has magical abilities to entertain, to soothe, and to put people to sleep. the original kantele also ends up at the bottom of the lake with the sampo, but another is made from birch and hair.

01 April 2015

April = Huhtikuu

spring is creeping in. its april. huhtikuu in finnish.

its also apparently known as swidden month, when dried pine trees were cut and burned to create fertile soil for new crops to grow in. “huhta” refers to these cut/burned trees. this is/was (not sure if this farming practice is still done) the time of year to do this, when the snow isnt as thick and the weather isnt as cold but its not too warm either. 

31 March 2015

Books!...and other stuff

wow! its been a while. i was in a real reading slump. it was pretty depressing, but then it just got started again and kept going. yay! i think it began when daves mom gifted me the 'gone girl' book. so thank you!

-gone girl. the read was WAY more enjoyable than the movie. the movie was perfectly cast, i'll give them that, but the book was much more engrossing. as usual i suppose. i found the treasure hunt part of the plot the most intriguing aspect of the story. i didnt really enjoy any of the personalities of the characters in the book, so i barely cared what happened to them at the end, however, i did feel the ending was especially lame. i did like taking the ride though.

-the rosie project. romantic comedy book narrated by a genetic researcher/professor with aspergers. he attempts to find a wife in a logical, unemotional way but ends up getting lost along the path and finds out so much more about himself and other people. having read a bit about aspergers i feel that the language, thoughts and struggles of the narrator were fairly accurate. the tangles of his life and the story sometimes got a tad bit silly, but what book doesnt. it was a fun new twist on the average love story.

-the fault in our stars. i had put it off, but then got an urge to read it. it was good. i love stories with smart teens, its nice not always hearing of teenagers in a negative way. and a love story, even with a sad ending, is always welcome, i didnt cry though (does that make me a monster?). im not sure when i will voluntarily read another cancer or holocaust book, they are always a bit too much for me. but, im off to read more by the author, and to watch the movie (spoiler alert: i thought it was poop compared to the book, well, honestly i stopped in the middle of the movie).

-paper towns. i love adventure-type books that use treasure hunts/clues to unravel the story (as i said, best part of the book 'gone girl'). this book was written by the 'the fault in our stars' guy. another story with teens as main characters, these guys were equally witty but perhaps not so smart as the 'fault in our stars' main characters. however, the things they were dealing with and thinking about were discussed on both universal/adult and adolescent levels. and i really love books that anchor themselves in english literature staples (here it leaned heavily on walt whitmans 'song of myself' poem), i felt like i was taking a mini 'great works' course. this one has also been made into a movie (which i am eager to see as always), coming this summer.

-call the midwife. this is now a popular BBC series. the nonfiction book was kind of all over the place but it related stories of a nurse-midwife in training (through a program at a convent), including various dramatic births (these were my favorite chapters) as well as snippets of the horrible and varied poverty of the people they served in londons east end (these were really interesting and thought-provoking). her chapters on the additional people she encountered in her training were rather dull in my opinion, and the author herself had a fairly irritating personality, so i sometimes wished she would stay out of the story and just tell it how it was. but im now interested to read more memoir-style books on midwifery and id like to read more about the workhouses in early 1900s london. gruesome stuff.

-daughter of smoke and bone. awesome beginning to a trilogy. this has love at the core of the story but it is also about trust and community and above all hope. its the kind of book you would feel good about pressing into the hands of any 'young adult' you come across. while being entertaining and youthful its also thoughtful and important. im hopeful for the other two books to come.

-days of blood and starlight. second in the 'smoke and bone' trilogy. this was actually decent, as much as second books irritate me. it started out annoying but thankfully didnt take too many unnecessary twists and turns while still being fast-paced and a real page turner. im hopeful that the final book will wrap the books ideas up nicely.

-dreams of gods and monsters. final book in the 'smoke and bone' trilogy. it was a good effort, i read it quickly, but i didnt think the bow that tied it up was all that tight at the end. im fine with it being left a bit open and bittersweet. no need for constant fairy tale endings, but after all the twists and turns i guess i just wasnt that overjoyed with the final 100 pages, even if the final 4 were nice.

-the reason i jump. this is a book orginially written by a severly autistic 13 year old japanese boy and translated into english by a japanese-irish family. wow. so great that they did the translation to share his insights and feelings with the world. you cant look at or think about autism the same anymore. ive worked with these kinds of kids before and knew there was more to them than people could see, but i didnt know the depths. i had read one of temple grandins books too and was blown away by what is trapped inside their minds, but reading it from a child with such powerful challenges...amazing. in general i think its a helpful read for any parent or educator.

-true detective, season 1. what amazing performances (by the lead males, i was not a fan of the female characters) and such beautiful direction (the same guy did the 'jane eyre' adaptation i love). the miniseries had lots of character development, i cant remember the last time i saw something go so deep and present so many facets of a person. i didnt care too much about the crime they were investigating, but the way their case unfolded was riveting. im looking forward to seeing what the guy writes for the next installation, maybe the rachel mcadams character can be respectable and fascinating.

-love rosie. i read this beach read fiction a few years ago and really enjoyed it. turns out they made it into a movie while i wasnt looking last year. very nice casting, good chemistry. another lovely romantic comedy to add to the books. check it out.