29 December 2014

Winter stay-cation

i was bored out of my skull last christmas since finns give themselves nearly 3 weeks off from regular life, including shutting out the outside world for the 3 days around christmas. i declared that we would go somewhere warm, we would stay at a resort! boo. this didnt happen.

Y does not have a passport yet (coming soon) and the two candidate holiday islands (madeira and canary islands) were closer to the ebola coast than i would have preferred (yes i realize that being hundreds of kilometers from the moroccan coast puts them very far away from the affected areas). so we did the next best thing(?), we rented a car and drove ourselves around helsinki and espoo for a few days acting like regular american families over holiday break. lol. :)

dec 25: dave picked up the rental car in the evening. it was so easy that he is now engaged in a serious love affair with our airport. he then struggles in the frigid temperatures to install the car seats and parks it on the street.

dec 26: in the afternoon, we all drive over (during a beautiful snow fall) to the city of espoos serena water park. everyone loved being in the car together, it definitely felt like a treat rather than a burden.

the water park also shares its facilities with an outdoor water park for summer and a small ski hill (smaller than pine knob). serena water park is older than the flamingo water park we tried out last year. the shower/locker room facilities were disappointing, but the pools were fun. the baby pool water was warm and shallow and the air was warm so Y did well until he got hungry and tired. X had fun going on slides, jumping around, going in the sauna, and having fun however else she could.

dec 27: X and dave ran errands using the car in the morning. not surprising, this task was so much easier and more efficient with a vehicle! then we all drove over to espoo again, this time to the weegee museum area. this building houses 5 museums, but we were only interested in two of them. we had a small lunch from the cafe and then checked out the toy museum (lame, everything was in glass cases) and then enjoyed the emma (modern art museum). they had so much art that kids could interact with: projector/video exhibits, sound exhibits, geometric/optical shapes to play with, and a crafty seasons room near the main entrance where you could create something from each season and hang it on a huge rotating tree.

dec 28: X and dave ran out to pick-up takeout lunch. what a treat! then we undertook the seriously heinous task of huge mall shopping. we went to the megalopolis mall in vantaa called, appropriately, jumbo. im out of practice with malls. im sure its no bigger than a typical mall in the US but we were all overwhelmed. we were so lucky to get a parking spot near an entrance but the place was slam packed with people...likely those who were also stir crazy at home and just needed to get out and...shop. we needed a couple household items and i popped in to two stores for clothes. we left asap, well, after we all enjoyed an ice cream treat. :)

dec 29: we lamely finished off our car 'vacation' with a trip to ikea. we needed a few last things to check off daves holiday break 'to do' list. it was nice not having to go there by bus, and it was nice to get so much done. it even inspired some 'winter cleaning' which was welcome activity to make me feel like we dusted ourselves off and can start fresh in the new year when we are back to our regular routine.

so, this car rental idea turned out to be a good one. perhaps we will do it for future winters (when we arent off sunbathing), but i am glad that we arent in charge of a car regularly. having one once in a while makes us use it efficiently to get things done, helps us explore our surroundings easier, and boosts our positive energy for the city, but i like not having to pay for ownership and maintenance.

26 December 2014

The mr. Y grows - 5 months old - Ham sandwich, in demeanor and body type

what else is there to say but that we are still enjoying every minute with him. the more he interacts with us the more we see what a ham sandwich he is. such adorable little smiles and coy looks, long eyelashes and silly giggles. he just soaks it all in and smiles back his appreciation and love. he is so tolerant and patient and serene. i would like to absorb some of whatever it is that centers him. oh, and he is also a gigantic beast.

(hamming it up for whoever looks at him)

 (working on new skills)
 (sister love)
 (mama/papa snuggles)
-3 month nurse appt. he was 15.5 lbs, 24.5 inches tall and his head was somewhat alarmingly large (17 inches), so they want to know daves head and height measurements to see if this is something to worry about or not.

-4 month nurse appt. he was 17 lbs, 26 inches tall and his head was still getting bigger.

-4.5 month dr appt. he is doing great. his head size checks out as just being big. hes going to be a big boy (wearing 12 month clothes now!).

-sleep pattern. he does about a 20-30 nap in the morning, then 1.5-2 hours in the early afternoon and then needs a top-up nap anywhere from 5-45 minutes later in the day, depending on how much he slept earlier. then he does a block of about 10 hours of night sleep (3-5 hours at first, then 1.5 hour wake ups until morning).

-he has taken a few naps like a finnish baby: in his snow suit, on the porch in a bassinet. he looks so comfortable and peaceful out there, and he never even has cold cheeks...though he hasnt done this when its been far below freezing.

-nicknames: (mr) chunky, chunky goo goo, mr [Y], [Y] bops, solid meat, handsome sauce

-has been given tastes of a few foods (like he got to lick the item): bananas, rice, clementine, black beans

-he is absolutely in love with dave and X. smiles, giggles, staring. love.

-he has started listening to stories, what i read to X, as well as baby books. he seems to like 'the very hungry caterpillar' a lot.

-he can spend way more time chilling on the floor than X ever could at this age.

-he loves being outside. its very interesting and calming for him. he has fallen asleep while riding on my lap on the swings with X.

-he likes the stroller when he is awake now. we are done with the bassinet and he is in the forward facing seated position. under certain conditions he is even willing to sleep in the stroller now.

-he likes screens. no, loves them. they arent often on, but if he is nearby...its gonna be hard to keep kiddo #2 away from them.

-he is very determined, focused, and patient when he is doing something. he can try to rollover for 20 minutes sometimes without getting frustrated.

-he can roll from belly to back (4.25 months), and back to front (4.75 months), though he doesnt really use rolling as a way to move around much yet.

-he can stand up and we often only need to use one hand to steady him.

-he really likes to pitch himself forward (in his chair, on our lap) and get into an upright sitting position

-hes grabbing things, but not really rabidly putting it in his mouth yet

20 December 2014

Two against one as dave heads for the sun (and clouds) of california

from december 14-20 dave was off in san fransisco for the annual AGU meeting. this was great for him in many ways, notably because he was invited to be a guest speaker, which is an honor. and so i was left alone in the finnish winter darkness with a 5 month old and 4.5 year old. things actually went well.

dave left on a sunday after breakfast and then we just slowly and patiently went about our business. i just kinda lived in the moment, put out fires/tantrums, patiently waited through the harder hours of the day (3-5p) and just marched along until bedtime. happily, the weekday, with the help of daycare, went very well, and then we only had to face down the full saturday without going crazy. and voila! it was over. thankfully i stamped out the few panic attacks that tried to bubble up and i was able to make dinners and get them to bed and shower and sleep enough myself to take care of everything. it was still too eerily quiet at night for me, but it was much more doable than i had dared hope. i might have to do it again in the spring when dave goes to canada, so im hoping for a similar kind of repeat.

once again, im glad im not a military wife and im glad dave doesnt do month-long field work, but im happy to have seen that i can manage a week with them and without help. it also reeeeeally helped that no one got sick. so, thanks universe. :) dave brought back gifts in the form of a suitcase full of clothing and food. nom nom.

End of fall 2014 - city summary

weather: it seemed like a very typical fall here, though the colors werent as brilliant or pretty as last year. i thought the leaves kind of dried up and went brown and crisp quickly. i found november to be fine (though we had a record of only 14 hours of sunshine for the whole month) and thankfully december was better than last year, for me, because we had some pretty snow mixed in there. thank you kindly finland. :)

-kids thrift store velmukirppis, in malmi. this was a newly opened thrift store just for kids stuff and it was well stocked and organized. lots of good finds. im sure we will be back.

-hoplop. this is a huge indoor playground and activity center. it is THE place to burn off pent up winter energy, such a huge space for moving your little body. and they made all the areas parent accessible too so you can go down the slides, climb through the tubes, jump on the trampolines, etc. if your little one is unsure about things at first. they also have food and comfy chairs there. our nearest one is in a really ugly location, but its still a great place, and Xs new favorite.

finn notables:
-food. we tried leipajuusto finally. its name means 'bread cheese' or 'oven cheese'. this is a tasty cheese that is made by baking it in the oven (you buy it at the store already baked though). you can eat it cold or warmed up, some finns apparently even eat it melted in their coffee (eek!) but we got it and warmed it up and put a dollop of cloudberry jam on ours (the cheese and cloudberry combination is the traditional way to eat it). i really like it. its also called 'squeaky cheese', because its kinda rubbery and squeaky when you eat it cold.

-birthday parties. from my amassed observations i find a surprisingly amount of local kids birthdays are on weekdays from 5-7p. whats up with that!? are people too busy on weekdays? what about work the next day, and how do you prep for a party like that? i dont fully understand.

-baby showers. they dont really have them in finland, or they didnt in the past. they are slowly becoming more popular i guess. otherwise people seem much more comfortable giving gifts once the child is born.

-our neighborhood (pihlajam√§ki) apparently has a reputation of being bad, like in the bottom 5 in the city. but, i think thats mostly historic...the first batch the families who moved out here back in the 60s came with young children and they all grew up together and became bored teenagers (before the city had sprawled out to really absorb it) and the teens would wreak havoc and fight, etc. i see and hear of none of that now, but apparently we are still tarnished by the past reputation. for me, i feel perfectly safe, X has lots to do and lots of kids her age to play with and we really enjoy the surroundings. plus, there really are no ghettos or scary areas of helsinki, perhaps areas with a higher amount of drunks, but they are mostly just dumb drunks, not dangerous.

-robin. there is tween pop singer named robin here. i suppose you would call him the finnish justin bieber in terms of popularity and cuteness (to clarify, i strongly dislike bieber, and also, i realize biebers popularity is finishing its 15 minutes of fame). robin, however, is a much nicer kid (and adorable too, i never liked bieber). because he is such a sensation among kids in finland we have one of his albums (a friend gave to X for her birthday) and we have been listening to several of his songs. his recent major single is very catchy, in any language, give it a try.

-finns are BIG creatures of habit. each season, month, holiday, procedure...has a ritual. you dont really deviate from the ritual because these repeated actions bring comfort. like in november, its typically tv watching month, when no one even tries to enjoy being outside. and it seems the month when the tv channels really do pay for the best selection of shows and movies (so far, that weve noticed. weve been watching tv since this summer). also, clementines seem to only be enjoyed around christmastime so they have finally gotten nice ripe, juicy ones at the grocery store and i.am.psyched. im starting to mold to the ways of these creatures...

09 November 2014

Finnish fathers day fawning

for whatever reason X was really excited about fathers day this year. i think all forms of celebration have really interested and excited her this year. papa was the latest victim of her excitement storm.

so for 'celebrating', i did a little crafty thing for dave with the kids foot and hand prints that i thought up, and then X drew tons of pictures for him and wrote 'papa' on everything. lol. she even expertly helped me pick out the pastry to make him for breakfast (korvapuusti, aka cinnamon rolls), and he really liked that. he also got to sleep in a bit and take a nap with Y later on in the day. hopefully he enjoyed his day. :)


to add my sentimental two cents, id like to say that since having two kids dave has surprised me more than ever. i feel like he is much better at work time management (because i suppose he has to be), he seems to have a nearly unlimited pot of energy for family things, he is motivated and focused on our needs (not that he wasnt before), and he even works from home some days (which is something i thought i would lose forever). its been really great to feel like i have a stronger partner and bond than ever rather than to feel the stress/work of two kids pulling us apart. fatherhood always looked good on him, but he seems to really embody it now and it benefits him too. i dont mean to sound bitter or annoyed, truly, but it really seems that being a married family man (for those who want it) is the best lot in life, in terms of health and happiness. dave has an interesting, stimulating job that stretches him in all sorts of ways and where he gets to achieve and travel and be challenged in character building ways, and then he can come home to a comfortable place (most nights) where he is a celebrity and gets smiles and hugs and attention from little people who he can share all his favorite things with. and, i assume, that i too figure in there as the one staying at home so he can travel and fulfill his job activities, to be someone else at home who thinks he's great, to talk to, to hear him. yes im romanticizing family home life a bit, it is also stressful at times, but on the whole i can see why studies so regularly find that married men lead longer happier lives than basically any other group. and i suppose it helps that for now im comfortable in my spot and responsibilities in the family too. :)

26 October 2014

The mr. Y grows - 3 months old - Serious smiles

Y spent the last few weeks either very curiously, silently staring or producing sweet sweet smiles and baby babble. he is a little chunky and we love him.

 (serious stares)

 (sweet smiles)
(sister love)
(a clue about his future...this is exactly how his papa sleeps)

1. life:

-first cold. thanks to germ sharing at daycare, X brought home a small bug that Y caught at 6.5 weeks old, thankfully he only had minor congestion.

-at 7 weeks he slept a 6.5 hour block at night

-9 week nurse appt. he weighed 6 kg (13 lbs) and was 61 cm tall (24 inches) with a 40 cm head circumference (16 inches). he got an oral vaccine of rotateq, and all else was normal.

-at 10 weeks he slept an 8.5 hour block at night

-it seems that he only has trouble with lactose, not dairy in general. since his digestion seemed to be settling down, at around 9-10 weeks i re-tried some dairy items that were lactose-free and all has been fine. so, hooray, i can eat cheese again!

-3 month growth spurt. phew! that was a toughy, just as i remember with X. for more than a week, maybe two, it was constant nursing, and he slept lightly/was easily stirred awake.

-he is now wearing size 9 month clothing, and on to 12 month stuff!

-sleep pattern. he really doesnt have one, but if forced i would say: 45 minute nap in morning, ~1.5 hour nap in afternoon, ~45 minute nap before dinner. to sleep around 9p and then 3-5 hour sleep block initially, then up every 1.5 hours or so. wakes up at 8:30a.

-his digestion seems to be the thing still hampering his sleep, though its gotten much better since the early weeks. at least now its less gas that is waking him up and more that he needs to poop.

2. 'personality':
-from perhaps 5-9p is his most fussy period

-he can sleep by himself for most naps now, but still sleeps on me for the tail end of the night.

-around 6-7 weeks he began fussing to have us to put him down. he likes to have time to himself either laying down or in a chair without being touched. he quietly takes it all in.

-around 7-8 weeks he started wanting to be carried facing out to look at everything and thus no longer wants to be carried like a baby.

-one day i had to put him down not yet fully asleep to go to the bathroom. he started crying, but by the time i was finished in the bathroom he was quiet. he had put himself to sleep! NEVER once did that occur with X.

-he coos/'talks' a LOT! i dont remember X doing this so much. and i swear he has mimicked several of our sounds.

-he is drooling and making bubbles. he likes to bite things, and i can already see two bottom tooth buds moving their way up in his gums.

-he likes to stand, and can hold himself up really well.

-he seems very motivated to grow up super fast. he loves watching X dance and sing and he loves when she shows him things. he watches us eat like he is a seriously curious student.

-he has been unclenching his fists. i love when he rests his hands on my chest while nursing. we do make fun of his hands though, calling them cheesy barf hands because of how they smell.

-he has done some adorable early giggling.

-he is a sweaty kid. like father, like son.

-he will ride in his stroller now, in forward facing mode (so, neither kid liked the bassinet-mode of the stroller).

momma mentionables:
1. parenting priority/interest changes. ive been thinking about how much has changed in my life (including myself) since kids but im not ashamed of it. i dont feel like ive really lost myself or whatever, im just trying out and working on new roles, new experiences, finding new things to enjoy about life and this world.

pre-kid priorities/interests (no particular order): dave, friends/family, having get-togethers, nature, travel, exploring locally, food, art, movies/tv, reading, relaxing, work.

priorities/interests with 2 kids (no particular order): kids, dave, friends/family, tv (select shows), baking, reading (though the subject/content has changed), nature, work, travel, exploring locally.

though i do wish i could feel a bit more well-rounded, i know i can pick up more and more things as the years go on and the kids get older and require less attention. im sure new, surprising interests will come along too, and that will be great. for me, im continually surprised that this life with two kids feels more and more comfortable. im okay with interests and priorities shifting for now, because as is very clear to me, nothing is forever and change is happening every day. there is no reason to think i'll be on this child-centric path for the rest of my life. im just trying to make the most of this section of the journey.

2. the gifts people have sent for Y (and X!) have been so lovely and thoughtful. i am humbled by how many people care and wanted to send something for a second child. we are very grateful.

3. i bought a small stash of (7) bumgenius pocket diapers from a friend and started using them when he was 13 lbs. we still need to use disposables when we run out of cloth for the day, but its been very nice to have them around. they are much easier to manage that i expected (remember we had the diaper service for X), and we dont even have a dryer. i look forward to getting the rest of my friends cloth diaper stash soon.

4. just to note it, if we had had a girl her name would have been bennet rose.

5. im getting good at picking things up with my toes while carrying Y in the carrier.

6. oh the dreaded hair shedding is occurring!

7. i can fit into my regular pants again, though im definitely squishier than ever. perhaps i can tone up a tiny bit in the months to come.

24 October 2014

X files - 4.5 years old - These rules were made for testing, and that's just what she'll do...

on the whole, this summer and early fall with X was great, especially watching her become a big sister. she took to it WAAAY easier than i ever dared dream, and it made the new addition all the sweeter. she talks to him, shows him stuff, dances for him and he is totally enamoured. she has gotten more fun and creative and impressive and, true to form, more able to find ways to push our buttons.

obsessions: baby brother, being the 'velvet swimming cat', wanting to fly, tv show 'hoarders', swinging, playing with her friend sini

good picture books: the mermaid and the shoe, the berenstain bears and the bad dream, a camping spree with mr magee, down to the sea with mr magee, summer [low], milo and the mysterious island, christophers harvest time

good longer books: the alfie and annie rose storybook, the stories julian tells, wide wonderful world collection, the little mermaid and other fishy tales

magic tree house series: dinosaurs before dark (#1), mummies in the morning (#3), afternoon on the amazon (#6), dolphins at daybreak (#9)

good special interest books: d'aulaires book of trolls, outside-in, nightmares: poems to trouble your sleep

(outdoor action)
(outdoor zen)
(anywhere princess)
(her 'love baby')
(still getting a bit of alone time on our laps)

x-citing developments:
1. rules. even before Y came along X was testing and testing the rules. i suppose it could partly have been due to her uneasiness with upcoming/present change, trying to see what else in her world was changing, but man is it frustrating! her ears would be open, she was listening to us asking her not to do something and she would do it just to check our response. for everything. multiple times.

2. bonding time. since its now harder for me to guarantee a shower when i want/need it, it was an easy 'kill two birds with one stone' idea to let X start taking showers with me (the idea initially was at her request). it was messy to try and shower her alone anyway so this has been a nice alternative. i get to be clean regularly and she is learning how to wash herself properly (we work on her doing her own shampooing, conditioning, soaping). she also gets to talk to me, play games, and just be alone with me without interruption. a bit unusual perhaps, but its been good.

3. regress. not sure exactly if its regression per se, but X has been putting crap in her mouth again lately. markers, toys, fingers, etc. ugh.

4. personality.
-she is very affectionate (physically and verbally) with us and Y.

-with visitors and even while playing with friends, she has a hard time being patient (interrupting, etc) and has an even harder time when she cant direct the play. im sure this is typical, and it also likely foreshadows some struggles in playing with Y as he gets bigger too.

-behavior with friends...she has a little friend who doesnt really listen to anything her parents say. the friend also has lots of creative ways to get out of doing things she doesnt want to do. X of course has picked some of these ideas up and brought them home to try on. thankfully it seems like they arent permanent fixtures but it does make for some conversations about how to conduct yourself and be a good person. on to a new phase of parenting i guess.

-the kids at her daycare are really friendly and always call her over to play when she arrives. they say goodbye/hello to her and they always announce to her when i have arrived. lol.

-singing. now that she has a collection of song melodies memorized from various sources, she will make up her own lyrics to address the topic she wants to sing about. on the playground she sings about flying or adventuring, and at dinner one night, she sang 'let it go' with new lyrics to speak to hoarders, encouraging them: 'dont keep your sadness inside or you will get sick and have a dirty house. let it go! let it go! just let your feelings go...'

5. learning.
-she is really good with her finnish now. she can translate some things on TV or in print that we attempt to read her. she even plays in finnish sometimes, and, limitedly, we all speak together in finnish.

-reading. she can really read lots of smaller words now, in real life, not just books. she can also sound unknown words out, one day dave asked her the name of some bugs in her guide book, she read 'cat fle-ah' (cat flea), trying to sound out the word flea that she hadnt seen before, and she read 'ant ant' (an ant). and there are lots of other words i find that she can read that i didnt expect. one day, she had a friend over and they were looking at a library book together. X read some words out of it and her friend (who is 5.5 years old) said '[X], you can read!?'

momma mentionables:
1. with Ys initial newborn calm sleepiness, it was great to ease X into the first phase of sibling life. i know there will be other times that are more difficult, but things have been smooth between the two so far and thats more than i had hoped for. X likes to sit next to whoever is holding Y at the dinner table, and she loves to greet him first thing in the morning and hug him good night. and i have been able to give hugs and kisses to both without there being a problem.

2. when we had X we became parents, but it felt like an odd 'family'. as ive said, we would have been happy to go along and continue to make that family size (3) our own, make it feel less 'odd'. but, i found, as X got older (and more independent) there was more free time available for the adults, so, often, one of us would take a break while the other played with or helped her. it was disjointed. now with two, our time is filled full up with family and i feel more togetherness (and chaos to be sure). its busy, yes, but everyone is in the same boat. with one child we had all the responsibility and restrictions that come with life with a kid, without the feeling of fullness. again, we would have gotten better at finding things that added quality 'fullness' to a three person family, im sure of it, but with the two kids, its built in. however, im sure as they get older and more independent we will need to fill up again (not with more kids, but with fun adults-only things/hobbies this time!) to reach that full feeling again. and thats okay.

12 October 2014

Whipp visit

daves parents made the trip over to meet Y, play with X, and explore finland. i think everyone came away with nice memories.

for my part, it was nice to have more people at the dinner table each night. it meant i got to make some desserts, buy a few of the things at the grocery store i'd been waiting to try, and interact with more human beings than i regularly get to. having the guests be family who were very happy to be sharing their evenings with us, as well as stories of their day as tourists, was a shining bonus.

they were here for two weeks and we saw them most days, though not every day. the pace was nice for everyone. we are very lucky to have people who are willing to make the long journey over.

our weekday dinners: grandparents playing with X, adult chatting, and just generally 'being' together

weekend activities (typically only involving dave and X with the grandparents): eating at stockmann, eating nepalese food, visiting daves work, exploring the haltia nature center

(grandma and Y)
(grandpa and Y exchanging smiles)

22 September 2014

End of summer 2014 - city summary

weather: we had a cool, rainy start to summer here (after an unseasonably warm spring) and then all of the sudden it was hot, and theres no AC here. we had something like 25+ days in a row of 'hot' temperatures ('hot' for finland is something like 75F+). this would have been absolutely wonderful, if i hadnt been pregnant or hanging out with a newborn during the heat wave, but we managed. X certainly loved all the swim days.

-pirkkola swimming pond (uimalammikko). in the central park network there is this large sports center area in pirkkola. there are various sports fields, an indoor pool, a gym, trails, and this awesome outdoor swimming area. the woods are cleared away and this man-made pool/beach was created with sand, grassy areas, a small water slide, a fountain, a center area of dry land and the pond can be walked into on the 'beach' side of it and the depth never gets to more than a meter. there is also a playground, bathrooms, and a cafe on the premises. it is free and it is heavenly. i wish we had a car to get back to this place more easily.

(view of pond/pool from the 'beach')
(the velvet swimming cat with her papa)

-rastila beach. rastila is a big nature area in eastern helsinki. there is a nature preserve, a beach, a camping area, and more im sure. my friend hannah and her daughter were visiting her mom for july and they invited us to this beach. its near where hannah grew up and we had the perfect summer day to enjoy it with them. it is a lovely beach in an easy-to-reach location. so nice to know about.

-monte etna. a chain italian restaurant in finland. we needed a place to grab lunch after Ys doctor visit one day. blah. very mediocre food at prices that were too high for my liking. also didnt like the lack of AC on a second floor place with no windows able to be opened.

finn notables:
-parenting independent kids. kids in finland are very independent. society allows this to be so, but of course its also sowed at home. while im all for independence, ive been a little shocked at the pushover parents here. i cant count the amount of times i hear parents telling and retelling their kids that its 'time to go home' or 'time to head in for dinner' and then the kid totally disregards their parents and continues to do exactly what they want for exactly how long they want. only when they are finally ready does the activity stop. i dont think so. im not saying you have to get rude or rough, but you can follow through with your 'its time to go home' by moving your body toward your kid and gently help them end the activity and listen to what you said. since ive rarely seen a public parental/child struggle or temper tantrum, this must be the way they avoid it...by not engaging in any disagreements. it does make for quiet public spaces, but it seems that it also makes for kids who arent able to take anything their parents say seriously.

-racial mix. the other day i went to the grocery store and saw a dark-skinned couple in what i would call 'american clothes' (casual, jeans). as they passed me i realized how struck i was with a feeling of homesickness. they would be just part of the regular mix of the population back home, nothing to make note of, but i dont think ive seen a couple like them since i arrived. yes, there are people from africa here, but most still wear their african print clothing and have different accents and looks. there is also a large population of muslim somalis here, whereas where i grew up pretty much any muslim person i saw was fairer skinned, from the middle east...and i rarely see them here. there are also gypsys here who dress in very large, heavy, black velvet skirts and sequined white shirts (well, the females anyway). the first time i saw them i thought some cast of an opera had just let out. i realize that while there is diversity here in finland, its quite a different diversity than back in michigan. of course the diversity from home doesnt feel like diversity, its just...normal. its makes me appreciate though that no matter what kind of societal mix you are used to, or how 'diverse' it is, it still doesnt mean you are blind to differences, or potential discomfort/confusion/curiosity from not knowing enough about the people you are living amongst.

08 September 2014

Visit from marmee and pal

my mom and al (marmee and pal to X and Y) came for a visit for 5 days. they were welcomed by lovely weather (high 60s and sunny) and a VERY excited granddaughter.

they had 3 weekdays with us, where they played with X from the time we picked her up from daycare until bedtime. they played outside, met some of the neighbors, read books on the ipad, found fun youtube videos to watch, did princess hairdos, and generally were very, very silly together.

on saturday, we all went to the city center and ate at stockmann, walked the esplanadi, strolled through the market square, went on the new finnair sky wheel (ferris wheel), and walked across senate square. a quick and dirty tourist loop that turned out to be just right for everyones energy level for the day.

(walking through a community garden in arabia)
(riding pals shoulders through the market; in the sky wheel)

on sunday, we all had brunch together. then, dave and i (with a napping Y) went on a grocery store run while X played with marmee and pal (this was our first chance to be away from X for a semi-alone 'date' time since Y arrived. it was a nice little slice of time).

overall, it was very nice to have had our first family visitors, and it was great getting to mostly keep up our regular routines. X loved the devoted attention and it gave everyone some much needed time to dust ourselves off and regroup since Y was born. now we can march on into this busy end of the year walking a little taller. thank you for making the trip marmee and pal, we hope you enjoyed your visit!

(marmees little princess and her little frog prince)
(male bonding)

06 September 2014

The mr. Y grows - 6 weeks old - A mellow fellow

*note: these summary entries for Y will be called 'the mr. Y grows', get it? the mystery grows...i amuse myself*
 (he sleeps)
 (...and sleeps)
(and he awakes!)

(and is very curious)

1. life
-first night home from hospital: ate for 1-2 hours, screamed about gas pain for 3+ hours , fell asleep next to me around 2:30a and we woke up refreshed at 7a. he didnt want to eat until 9a.

-it seems his gas pain is definitely from lactose/dairy issues. all the gas pain seems to reduce his interest in eating (understandably), which, among other reasons (the heat, being a newborn, etc), was why at 3 days of age he had lost 10% of his hefty birth weight, thankfully he had so much to start.

-on day 4 he started eating (i hadnt had dairy in my diet for several hours) and eating and eating without pain and things went great. he was born with a great latch and was very efficient to bring in the milk. it wasnt fun to wait around on day 3 with engorged boobs and no kid who was awake or interested. but we joined forces on day 4 and that was just lovely.

-on day 7 we had an appointment to get him weighed and the weight loss had stopped, so now he needed to regain.

-on day 9 we had another appointment and he still hadnt gained weight, but he was looking and acting fine and making his diapers as messy as he was supposed to. also, the nurse didnt seem concerned, she just said he could be starting out slow to gain.

-on day 10 he started a growth spurt and finally figured out how to properly drain a boob before falling asleep. also, his cord stump fell off overnight and his belly button looked gross.

-after the growth spurt we had a nurse appointment. he was finally gaining weight, and his belly button area just needed to be cleaned for a bit longer and things would be fine.

-his week 3 growth spurt involved lots of wakefulness (5+ hours at times) so that he could just continuously drain both boobs, endlessly. apparently he would like to make up for lost eating/weight gain time. he is really heavy now! and growing out of the 'newborn' clothes.

-after week 3, his sleep habits changed dramatically and he settled into a more regular sleep routine. during the day he seems to prefer a short (~45 minute) nap in the morning and a monster nap (~3 hours) in the afternoon (he can mostly only sleep for this long if close to my body: in bed, in the ergo-carrier), though thankfully we can start out in bed (so i can get a nap in too), for example, and then transfer into the carrier without trouble. hes awake and grumpy (tired + hungry fighting against each other) in the evening, but finally goes to sleep around 9-10p. then he can do one 3 hour sleep stretch and then wakes 2-3 more times before morning. he also, thankfully, now mostly understands that night is for sleeping and not partying.

-week 5 nurse and dr appointments: he was normal for everything. he weighed 10.5 lbs. and is growing very well now. i was measured for things as well, all is getting back to normal, and i have about 9 more pounds to lose.

2. 'personality'
-the kind of sleeping he did in his first days is in fact why there is the phrase 'sleep like a baby'. it was very peaceful, easy, deep, relaxing, and refreshing. at least now i know that that kind of newborn isnt a myth.

-he found his hands basically on day 1 for soothing himself (which works sometimes).

-it seems his #1 preference for soothing is nursing (shocking), whether he is full or not. the kid just wants to wind himself down with boob. around week 4 i introduced a pacifier for when i have filled him up with milk and he still cant settle to sleep (to avoid the excessive spitting up). he is only mildly interested in them, but takes it enough to calm down and get some rest, sometimes. the stroller seems to only moderately work for soothing (it calms him but he doesnt often or very easily sleep in it), he doesnt seem to like rocking or bouncing yet (including the bouncy chair), and even the carrier, doesnt work unless he is full of milk.

-at around 5 weeks, he was able to sometimes be put to sleep (once full and in a warm, quiet, dark-ish place) by being upright with his ear on my chest and his back patted. so lovely.

-the biggest reason he has trouble sleeping is because toots/gas wakes him up. im hoping once his digestive system matures a bit in a couple months that that issue will be gone.

-when he is awake and happy he is very calm, quiet, and curious. he stares intently at one thing or another (he likes shadows and my face) and can be in his own little world for 5-10 minutes without needing to be picked up.

-he also finds being outside to be a calming experience.

momma mentionables:
1. i forgot how much i like seeing dave interact with a baby. so sweet.

2. i had very painful uterine contractions until 1 week post-birth (more so than with X). i had heard that is normal with second kids.

3. i was able to have another great labor experience and this time even the post-birth experience went well. i got a topical anesthetic spray before the 6 stitches i needed post-birth and i did opt to take the mild pain meds for soreness and inflammation while in the hospital overnight, but otherwise i was not unexpectedly given a shot of extra oxytocin in the leg after the birth (as in canada) and nothing else was done or given to me. of course less tearing helps too but the 'down there' recovery and the boob engorgement phases of post-partum were much easier this time with the gift of a more mellow, sleepy baby. i will forever thank him for that, even if he turns around and robs me of sleep soon (famous last words?). i also noticed that at least initially i havent experienced the wild wacky hormones that made me feel out of myself last time. i feel like me, in fact, in the first week or two i think i was actually 'high' on oxytocin ('everything is so great'), or maybe i was prepared for the worst and got something very enjoyable instead, or its a combination. and maybe the later phases of post-partum life will get me down (certainly there will be hard times) but having this gentle ease in has been so amazing. if i didnt have notes on Xs first weeks and months, i would never believe one family could be so battered by one arrival and so soothed by another. however, both (though very different arrivals) feel like very special gifts of very distinct and separate sorts. and its a good reminder that they are their own unique people.

4. so far, going from 1 to 2 kids is heavenly compared to the trauma of going from 0 to 1. aside from being woken up in the middle of a sleep cycle (yawn!) i think its been much easier to just go with the flow this time around. each trouble/bump smooths itself out with time and i find staying in the current moment really helps a lot for day-to-day struggles.