24 April 2015

X files - 5 years old - X is a many splendored girl

the girl is all over the place, in a (mostly) fun way. :) she is interested in so much and when she decides to get interested in a new activity or thing, look out. she wants to learn and try out every angle, and repeat, repeat, repeat until she has it down cold. when she hits on things that i also enjoy its been really fun to be allowed along for the journey into her discovery of it. 

(strike a pose in your favorite clothes)
(coloring; painting)
(DIY madonna-esque princess; merida x2!)
(all weather girl)
(sharing her toys; sharing her stories)
(sharing smirks; sharing a blanket)

faerie tale theater shows: snow queen, snow white and the seven dwarves

good picture books: sam and dave dig a hole, the snow girl [leo], the book with no pictures, paper bag princess, just a little critter collection, mix it up!, dangerous [warnes], winnies big bad robot, the misadventures of sweetie pie, recipe for a story, house held up by trees, the doubtful guest

good longer books: my fathers dragon, little tim and the brave sea captain, tales of tiptoes lightly, jenny and the cat club, wonderful things happen collection, the twits, the snow queen, of course polly can do almost everything, little miss treasury, santa and the magic drum, the shrinking of treehorn, treehorns treasure, the unicorn [lilius], the mr men treasury, the day no one was angry, puss in boots and other tales [gallery books edition]

good special interest books: julianas bananas, you wouldnt want to be an egyptian mummy!, killer plants and other green gunk, runny babbit, pink lemonade, creation stories from around the world, A is for art

X-citing developments:
-at almost 5 years, she can now (sometimes) admit that she is tired. its amazing! never thought id see the day. she said one day 'mom, im not getting sick, but i feel tired i would like to lie down.' what!?

-night terrors. i had these as a kid too. thankfully she only gets them on occasion. ive read it happens most often when kids are over-tired, over-stressed, or are sick. id say thats true. when it occurs, it happens once, maybe twice, within the first few hours after shes gone to bed, so its been easy for us to be there with her. she cries out, sits up in bed, sweaty, just kind of fidgets around or maybe cries out some more in incoherent phrases and then will lie back down if you gently direct her with your hands. if you are going to talk to her, it needs to be in a whisper, otherwise she gets highly agitated and scared. she has no recollection of these things in the morning. in the beginning, we thought she was waking up because she needed to pee, picking her up and taking her to the bathroom is also not advised, she gets very angry and loud and scared. once we found what works for her, she lays back down and goes back to sleep easily, and often thats the end of it. so they havent been that difficult.

-car seat. in february we bought her a new car seat, a booster-style one with full back support. its nice, and super easy to install in european cars, it has this european 'isofix' connection.

-chores. she asked to start earning money for things. there were a few small toys of interest to her on sale at the store so i bought them and told her she could work for them. she can hang up wet loads of laundry on the drying rack all by herself so that was her job. one little character was worth 4 loads of laundry, two other characters were worth 6 laundry loads. she had a goal. along with starting to do work for money, she was also learning how to wait and anticipate, as well as the feeling of being let down when the toy wasnt all it was cracked up to be.

however, after we did chores for money for a while it wasnt feeling like it was the best system for us. i wanted her to be doing work around the house because that is part of helping around the house that everyone in the family will be expected to do as they get older, i didnt want it to be bribed, essentially, to be done. and she was begging more and more to do more and more laundry because she wanted more things. i wasnt going to manufacture fake work just to fund her toy purchasing. so we looked around for an idea that felt better. i cant find the exact article anymore, but in essence, i read an article like this and the advice clicked and made sense to me so we went forward with it.

-allowance. on saturdays, she is paid 1€ for every year old she is. she has to spread (as evenly as possible) this amount of money among 3 jars (spend, give, save). she can do what she likes with the 'spend' money, whenever she wants. the 'give' jar is saved for a couple times a year when we find a good cause to donate to, together (when the nepal earthquakes occurred, she emptied her jar and added it to the amount dave donated to the relief aid). the 'save' jar is left to accumulate for future goals of our mutual agreement (the first thing we are saving for is our US trip. she will be allowed to take her 'save' money on vacation and buy whatever she wants with it. we agreed that we will only buy her one or two small souvenirs on top of this amount, plus clothes that we need to purchase for her anyway). as for chores, well, she has responsibilities around the house that will grow as she ages but they arent tied to payment, they are expected.

-she came up with an idea to write to people and ask for things ('please send me a card back' or 'please send a few things that i can work for'. this was when we were still paying for chores.). she sent a picture or two and a 'note' and was very excited to be making future mail for herself.

(this is her typical face when anyone sends her anything in the mail, from a card to a package)

-weve been watching charlie chaplin and buster keaton silent films. its fun to start the sharing of good cinema, and its great to get the black and white stuff in early so that she can also learn to be impressed with and appreciate what you can get from non-color, non-3D, non-CGI movies.

-clothes. she loves changing her clothes multiple times a day. and ive got to say i enjoy her style and hope the creativity sticks around. at one point she gave all her dresses different princess names (this is the 'forest princess' dress, this is the 'grey princess' dress, etc).

-she loves doing puzzles.

-she likes to pretend she is a cat.

-song lyrics/poetry. she enjoys when ive read poetry, as well as the poetry of song lyrics. she often makes me sing a new songs lyrics and read them to her until she knows them. along the way she asks me to explain the 'story' of the song/lyrics. this is hard! the 'far from any road' (true detective, season 1 theme song) was much harder than the disney songs. lol.

-crafts. she loves using glue, scissors, and color to create pictures, hats, masks, etc. all of her own design.

-drawing. she makes bugs and monsters and trees/flowers and people and you can really tell what they are now. she is also much better at staying inside the lines when coloring printed pictures. she has a drawing, drawing, drawing obsession. she also decorates the house with her drawings.

(sample of monsters/creatures)

-writing. she has become very interested in letters and writing. when writing letters she can do many of them without looking at an example of the letter and their clarity is getting better all the time. she didnt learn any letters by tracing.

-spelling. she knows how to sound some words out. ive asked her to spell basic words and she can stop and think about it and get it right (no, go, the).

-math. at dinner one night she started to do math problems. she was telling me '10+10 is 20' and '2+2 is 4' and then '10+9 is 19'. she continued in this vein for several minutes. we talked about 'minus' as well. thats a bit harder i assume. then she went on to '800 is bigger than 200' and '89 is more than 86'. she also has told me 'when [Y] is 4, i will be 8. when [Y] is 6 i will be 10'. she just does it in her head, quickly. i try to ask how she counts in her head, but she doesnt seem to be able to explain it, im very curious though.

-music. i got a toy piano/xylophone from the thrift shop (in mid-april). its just a toy but it can carry a real (limited) tune. it came with 6 songs to learn to play. we showed X the basics of how to read the music and she tried it out. once she got more comfortable we told her a bit more about reading the notes. since then you can really tell the tune she is playing and also she has mostly memorized twinkle twinkle little star.

-knots. she learned with her winter scarf how to tie a basic knot.

-whistling. she figured it out and could not be more happy about it.

-she drew a picture of a bird with two circles with Xs through them down in its private area and little plants at the birds feet. she explained to me that it was a bird who didnt want to let the pee out of his bladder (or penis) because the pee would hit the nettles down below and the sting from the nettles would travel up his leg.

-Y. she still loves him, but sometimes i think her feelings and excitement for him wind her too tight and she doesnt know if she just wants to hug him or actually squeeze him to death. but, overall, he has been so good for her in many ways. mostly, i think she really appreciates having a live-in buddy. someone she is comfortable with and who loves her back. she really looks out for him, is always thinking of new things to show him and dearly loves to make him laugh. and he, in return, loves her to pieces.

Year 5X in review

half a decade of smiles gone by... 
(age 0)
(age 1 & 2)
(age 3 & 4)
(age 5)

height - 109 cm (3'7")
weight - 17.6 kg (39 lbs)
shoe size - US 11 (EU 29)

favorite books: the adventures of tim, little miss/mr treasury, treasury of egyptian mythology, edward gorey books

favorite foods: cheese on nakkileipä (crisp bread), yogurt, pizza, berries, apples, pears

favorite things: baby brother, drawing, cutting with scissors, watching 'larva' (cartoon), trash pack characters, swinging, collecting rocks, watching/helping papa play the video game 'binding of isaac'

typical weekday: wake up at 7/7:30a. breakfast at home. go to daycare around 8:30/9a. back home around 3p. play outside. play inside. have dinner at 5:30p. bedtime at 8p.

1. family. she woke up on her birthday (a friday) and went immediately to her presents. lol. we watched her open things from us, the grandparents, and aunts/uncles. after daycare, her friend came over to play and then we had a family dinner of pizza from koti pizza (same dinner as she chose last year). then we had a cinnamon cake i made (she requested the same cake as i made dave for his birthday). she had a great day and so did we. thank you to everyone who sent her a gift/card, she cherished them all. we made a mistake in letting her have the package boxes sitting out for the few days before her birthday. the anticipation was worse than christmas, but she did examine them fully to learn about how to address mail and what packing slips and postage looks like. she also played with the packages as toys and carried some of them around like security blankets. we wont keep the packages out next year, but it was interesting to see her caring so much about them, just being grateful for them in general, no matter what they contained. she even called some of the people to thank them (before her birthday) for sending her something, even my grandma who had just sent a card.

(happy birthday girl with pizza. also, sporting her new favorite outfit, the cat dress)

2. friend party. this party was supposed to be the day after her birthday (a saturday afternoon), but Y woke up with a new cold and fever and i wasnt feeling my best either. it was terrible to tell her that because of us we needed to cancel her party, but we had just had pink eye going around our house and we werent sure if it was coming back or what these new sicknesses were and we didnt want to give anything to the kids. she was upset for a short while but then was fine. she was very mature about it. luckily, we were able to reschedule the party to the next wednesday, after daycare, and all of the same kids were able to come. i was so anxious leading up to party day, worried someone else would get sick and we would have to cancel it again. thankfully everything went off without a hitch. she had helped plan the party: made the decorations (it was monster and/or trash pack themed), planned the food (an assortment of her favorite snacks and treats), and decided that she wanted to have her favorite show 'larva' on at some point during the party. it was really fun organizing it with her, i look forward to it next year. her friends all came with their parents and we had a nice visit with them too. two friends were new-to-us, both from daycare. she found another boy at daycare who speaks finnish and english (his dad is nigerian) and she had two friends at the party who only spoke finnish. i could hear her switching from english to finnish throughout the party time so that she wasnt excluding her finnish-only speaking friends. there were 5 of them, including X, and it felt like it was almost too many but we managed with only a bumpy 5 minutes that was quickly smoothed over. phew! and i give her credit for being pretty decent at trying to give attention to all of them, even though she really has no practice with that kind of thing at home (at daycare, sure). also, she chose not to have 'happy birthday' sung to her this time, which helped make her much more comfortable than at parties in the past. in the end, she had a great time and im so glad.

 (party food; taste tester)
 (she decorated the house walls with colored in and original monster drawings)
(my gang of monsters. they each have a monster t-shirt on. this is a link to the art on daves shirt.)

3. message to X. wow miss, youre 5! look at you! youre so grown up, and yet, happily, i still find the same core things to be true about you since you were a newborn. 

you are genuine...as a baby, this meant that you didnt just hand out smiles to everyone you met but when you felt happy and comfortable your smile shone as bright as the sun. as a 5 year old, this means that for those you love and feel safe and comfortable around you open up and show them all of you. you still dont give out free smiles or hugs or attention, but when someone has earned your trust, the fountain of hugs and love is hard to turn off. you talk about them, think about them, draw/write stories about them and want them to know how you feel. 

you are observant...as a baby this meant that you were always watching, looking, absorbing, curious, and often slower to want to try something yourself until you had seen others do it. as a 5 year old, this means that you still prefer to be first an observer before a doer. you then seem to incorporate the doers joys and mistakes and inform yourself about how best to proceed when you do end up trying that activity out. it also means that you notice all the details in a situation and really pay attention to things that interest you.

you are focused...as a baby this meant that you liked to study things and that you could happily sit through reading a large stack of picture books. as a 5 year old, it means that when you enter your world of drawing, singing, playing that you can fully absorb and be lost to the rest of the world. i have found it remarkable how rarely you get bored. and when i do hear 'im bored' its often quickly replaced with an idea of yours that you take up and run with for quite a while. 

you are a persistent negotiator...as a baby this meant that you would not just cry if you needed something, you developed a whole range of noise expression (most on the 'high' end of the sound spectrum) that made it very clear that you were not going to be a pushover in any situation. you didnt always get your way, but you made your preferences known and you were clear and consistent about them. as a 5 year old, it means that you stand-up to the rules and challenge them. you still dont always get your way, but you are very clear and persistent about your distaste for certain rules, often trying to negotiate a compromise or change to the rule that is more pleasing to you. when those suggestions are reasonable, we have tried them. sometimes they work well for everyone, and sometimes we need to go back to our rule, but you never stop trying. you always make it known how you feel about something, and you dont back down easily.

you are sensitive...as a baby it meant that almost everything was 'too' for you. too noisy, too stimulating, too distracting, too exciting. you really preferred being in the carrier, outside, on a walk. also, your digestive tract and skin were sensitive to many foods. as a 5 year old, it means that you still have a hard time with loud or unexpected noises, you dont like tags on your clothes, and you can easily get overwhelmed. but it also means that you are very aware of how others are feeling, if you know what they are feeling you are able to sympathize, if you are uncertain what they are feeling or why, you think about it, a lot. also, you are very sensitive to smells and tastes, in a good way. you can describe things very well and are not afraid to try new foods, which increases your ability to make comparisons. 

seeing all of these attributes evolve has been fascinating, and it makes me curious to see what they will look like when you are 10 and 15 and beyond. these traits are ones that i admire, they make up a strong, dynamic person who can be emotional and caring as well as someone who stands up for themselves and is honest. i hope that along the way we are able to nourish your development of these and other traits to reach their fullest potential. im excited to see where they take you, and, as always, im glad im along for the ride. we love you. we love you. happy birthday bunny!

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.