28 January 2015

Dinner party for the growing lab

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

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

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

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

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

26 January 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-he likes his cheek stroked sometimes to go to sleep

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

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

-he LOVES grabbing his feet

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

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

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

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

11 January 2015

It's awards season again! Yay golden globes.

forgettable looks (do i say that every year?). this year it seemed to be sparkly, or folded fabric, or skin bearing. the sparkly dresses were mostly boring, the folded fabric dresses were the most beautiful and interesting of the night, and the skin bearing ones just made me feel kind of embarrassed for the wearer. am i getting old? its just unnecessary skin, it doesnt add anything pleasant.

(my favorites from the night...
felicity jones: love the dress color, neck/shoulders area and the folding.
reese witherspoon: its plain and simple but fits her well and her hair and accessories compliment nicely)

(drove me to distraction...
salma hayeks dress was lovely and looked really great on her, i was just too distracted by her hair and earrings to appreciate it. boo. kerry washingtons dress had an intricate and beautiful pattern too, nice and shimmery, but i was distracted by how uncomfortable she looks, the matronly cleavage and the tea length. jessica chastains dress color goes well with her hair and skin but the smashed together boobs?)

(has been...trying too hard... 
these ladies work very hard on their bodies. i see that. kudos. but could jennifer lopez and kate hudson be trying any harder to stay in the spotlight? its off-putting, like their looks for the night. and i hear j.lo had a wardrobe malfunction. come on.)

(post-baby mamas...
i enjoy this from amanda peet, good work and congrats. rosamund pike is a gorgeous lady but the cutouts just do not work at this time, it ruins the otherwise soft feminine look of your dress)

(dapper dudes...
bill murray, michael keaton, and paul rudd. seeing them just made me smile)

(favorite couple looks...
keira knightley [preggo] and hubby [looks like he hate hollywood]: i love her feminine whimsical comfy looking dress and the stunning make-up and hair. she stood out. channing tatum and jenna dewan: he looks like a statue but she looks smooth like butter. the folding on this dress was lovely and she also looked very comfortable.)

(british cuties...
colin firth and wife. benedict cumberbatch and fiancee. the ladies looked nice [and flowery] with their partners and benedicts girl had pockets. love.)

(lack luster...
i didnt lose my mind when george clooney shocked the world and married amal. i think she is very beautiful but the dress and gloves were lame. matthew and camila. she chose the folded dress look with yucky streaked and poufy hair to compliment his corpse scruff. they both seem to have aged 10 years since last award season.)

 (ladies of comedy...
love tina and amy [and their hosting skills] but these dresses to enter the award show were not doing it for me. tina had the sparkles and folding to match the evenings trends and amy had pockets(!) and a lovely color, but i didnt like these looks. and i just do. not. like. lena dunham. it dont care that shes not a stick insect, this dress doesnt even fit properly and could she slouch any harder? is she trying to encourage the internet trolls. maybe she likes the fodder.)

05 January 2015

Momma mentionables: First speed bump with two kids

let the record show that i finally hit a wall (or, i guess i did continue to keep moving, so perhaps maybe more like a speed bump) being cooped up with 2 kids at home. that day was today, january 5.

i suppose this day could have been predicted a long way off. i had gone from that full week of solo parenting before the holidays, into 2 straight weeks of having everyone at home without any real agenda (though kudos to dave for hitting his to-do list hard and crossing nearly everything off!), and then, when everyone was nearly at their wits end from the holiday break boredom, dave went back to work in the middle of Y starting an exhausting growth spurt. oh and daycare had still not re-opened, i was done. done. i yelled. i cried. i barely kept it together. and then the next day came and was a tiny bit better. and then the storm subsided.

i shouldnt be too surprised i suppose, this winter vacation time was hard for me last year as well (being bored and cooped up), but was really hard for me this year. it was the first time 2 kids felt overwhelming. it was too much. the only relief was when we had the rental car and could come up with things to get us out of the house, that interested us, that took up time, and were easy for us to get to. i will need to come up with more ideas next christmas break, but at least it appears that dave wont be doing his california meeting again, so at least we can all finally be home leading up to the holidays and can go into the time off better prepared.

02 January 2015

Finland - 2 year anniversary

i dont think i'll be reflecting each year, especially since it feels like weve really settled in here so there isnt much left to adjust to, except life in general.

we finally have our finnish drivers licenses, our finnish ID cards, and nearly all the banking access of a normal finn. damn, these people are super conservative when it comes to identity theft and protection. this is a good thing, im fully on board for it, but of course it has sometimes felt like a never ending cycle of appointments and visits to places that take up valuable time with annoying paperwork. but, i think we are finally done. famous last words.

and its nice too, that after all that work getting into society, we do actually feel happy here. we really like it. the people are getting used to us, we feel a part of our community. we are comfortable with the weather, the darkness, the city, or at least as comfortable as i expect to be. its nice to feel more settled into life than we have in quite a while. if the opportunity presents itself, we are even considering buying our current apartment from our landlords. so really this feels like home to us. since the finns are as regular as clockwork we have learned to enjoy the predictable ebb and flow of days, months, seasons. if we need a jolt we can always get out and away, but for the pacing of family life with two small kids, i cant think of a nicer place to be. i feel connected, slowly, and accepted, slowly, and i am happy to stay.

i cant believe how long weve been 'on the run', since ann arbor i suppose. since summer 2008 weve been nomads and now we think we are ready to test out the idea of putting down roots. its not scary actually, just strange. of course, looking back, it was fun (and hard) to adventure around and try on different lives and cultures. we still have more to learn here, im sure, but its nice to have some stability. we can take a pause here, while the kids grow up a bit, always being open to options and ideas, and then if we feel the need to fly, i think we will have confidence to do that too. with the rest of europe nearby we can still satisfy cravings to explore and discover new things about ourselves in that way, so the idea of being in this one spot for a while doesnt feel too suffocating. thanks for being a good fit finland. :)

and here is just a nice little article, sort of about fitting into finnish life. all the 'bad american habits' on the list are ones we tended not to do very much of so i suppose that is why we were able to become comfortable here so quickly or perhaps its the reason why finland suits us so well.

01 January 2015

January = Tammikuu

so, id like to have an entry at the start of each month this year that gives the translation for the finnish name of the month and a brief amount of further information.

ive been trying to learn finnish by osmosis (lol) since that beginners finnish course i took late in 2013 (practicing the language seems impossible because i have no real need to use it, like i did in france). its been working reasonably well in terms of better understanding peoples general gist, but when i look at the names of the months they just do not stick in my brain. here is my attempt to rectify that...

January = Tammikuu

lets start with the fact that 'kuu' means 'moon' in finnish. you will see it at the end of each months name. this makes sense since moon cycles are the length of about a month, so, a long time ago it would have been a good way to measure time throughout the year.

currently, 'tammi' means 'oak', but, in some old finnish dialects it meant 'heart' or 'core' (typically referring to a tree) as well. this months name refers to the fact that it is in 'the heart of winter'.