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.