Monday, May 31, 2010

word play

Sofia has been a part of our family for almost 18 months now – she was adopted from Russia at the age of 6½. As I’ve mentioned before, she speaks English with me and Swedish with everyone else.
People often remark how quickly and fluently she learned both languages.
However, there are a few words and grammatical errors that just seem to be lingering on for what seems like forever:
  • I’m am going to . . . (insert any activity). She doesn’t do this in the Swedish version.
  • Misuse of the pronoun “them” instead of “they” – except she pronounces it “dem”: Dem are nice, right, Mom?
  • Can I have some drink? instead of something to drink
  • Can I go get the email? meaning regular mail
It doesn’t seem to matter how often I correct the first 2, by saying it correctly and having her repeat or answering back grammatically correct . . . these 2 errors seem to be sticking around for now.
The last 2 seem to be on their way out. When she asks for “some drink”, I just look at her and wait . . . her finger goes up in thought and her face all scrunches up until she figures out “something to drink”. When she wants to go get the email, I remind her it’s on the computer and then she thinks about it for a few seconds before figuring out it’s the mail she wants to go get (our mailbox is about 175m away).
I have no comment on her Swedish, because I have no idea. I think it is her stronger language, but she has told me she speaks English better (except when she’s in trouble – then she says, “I don’t understand what you mean, Mom.”)
I have to wait a few more days to post about our Saturday trip to Helsinki to meet the Russians – the post is meant to include some photos, but I couldn’t find my camera today, anywhere. So I called the hotel where we met up with them, and sure enough, my camera is there. So, the hotel is sending it up to me via mail (or is that email?).

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

busy, busy, busy

Let’s see . . . yesterday I had physio at 9:15am in Nykarleby (25km x2 drive). Then Sofia had a dentist appointment at 1:45pm in Nykarleby (dropped Joel off at his friend’s house). Before dinner I picked Joel up from Friend’s house (7.5km x 2 drive). Mattias had a soccer practice from 7-8:30pm in Nykarleby.
I’m thinking I should move into my van.
When Mattias and I got home last night, he bolted for the house, slipped and had a major wipeout on our pallet sidewalk. P1030422_edited-1 (Looks great, don’t it?)
I saw the whole thing. It was awful. He said his arm hurt.
I was sure it was going to be broken.
The fall was brutal. His torso bounced.
Anyways, I had him wiggle his fingers, move his wrist, etc. and then I tentatively dared to gently run my hands down him arm.
It was fine.
It hurt, and was cut, but was not broken.
I put on a dressing, gave him some Tylenol and the Magic Bag to rest his arm on. Later, I wrapped it in a tensor bandage for his piece of mind (he still thought it might be broken and I told him the tensor would keep it from moving . . . .)
Today we went on a school trip to an amusement park.
I checked my photos from today and they’re lousy, so here are some from the same park 2 years ago:P1000406 P1000414
Seriously, it is another world here – living in rural Finland. The students (aged 5 – 13) were told to never be alone, they didn’t have to have an adult with them either. They just ran around and did all the rides they wanted. At 1pm, they had to meet up for lunch . . . and they all came. At 3:15 they had to head for the bus . . . Because we teachers also got armbands, I did go some rides, including the big wooden roller coaster.
I even put my arms up in the air.
That’s a big deal for a scaredy-pants like me.
Tonight I took Sofia to Nykarleby for track and field practice.

Monday, May 24, 2010

my girl’s do

As usual, I’m up to my old tricks and trying new hairdos on Sofia.
Yesterday, we did this one:
P1030407 P1030409
By the end of the day, I was beginning to think that this would be her hairdo for the school year-end assembly. (Last year’s do looked like this:Skolavslutning2009 003 )

Sunday, May 23, 2010

sunday drive

This afternoon we all hopped in the van and drove 60km south to Vaasa. An IRL friend of mine had invited us to her school year-end exhibition. She is just finishing her 2nd year of a 3-year course in carpentry. Every student had put out selected pieces on display, and the visitors had the chance to vote for their favourites. I, of course, voted for one of my friend’s pieces:
IMGP9216_edited-1 Isn’t this amazing? It’s a serving tray  . . . each of those small pieces that appears to be a different colour, is actually a different piece of wood, each one individually cut. In addition to being a really great carpenter, my friend is also a fabulous, self-taught, photographer.
After checking out the carpentry exhibition, we wandered over to the greenhouse (for the horticultural students) and bought a few annuals for my new garden.
Then Sofia got a chance to go horseback riding for the first time (she’s been on a pony once) – just once around the corral.
When we got back in the van, where the boys were waiting for us, I asked Joel why he didn’t want to go. Our conversation went like this:
J: Because horseback riding is for girls.
Me: Hello. Cowboys. Ever heard of them?
Sam: Yeah, but Mom, here it’s only girls who are interested in horses.
Alrighty then.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

getting old

Let’s face it . . . getting old pretty much stinks.
And, it crept up on me without me hardly realizing it.
I never used to use any kind of moisturizer . . . kinda a throw back to my teenage years when I was plagued by zits and oily skin . . . who wants to moisturize oily skin? And, in my 20s and 30s, I was still a bit prone to blemishes . . .
If I could go back and give my teenage/20/30-something self some advice, it would be, “Use a good moisturizer. It’s a good pre-emptive strike at the wrinkles that are sure to come and you’re sure to hate.”
Anyways, when I first noticed some small lines around my eyes, I thought “Hey, they’re not so bad . . . proves I’ve been smiling!” Right?
Then, I turned 40 a few years ago and some alarming changes started to happen:
  1. body parts started heading south. At one point, I hadn’t gained any weight (according to the scale), but my pants weren’t fitting the same anymore. It was really weird.
  2. wrinkles started multiplying like rabbits. I have them not only on my face, but have started noticing them on my hand as well. Yikes!
  3. at the hairdresser last week, I noticed that I have a waddle on my neck. Double Yikes! Maybe there’s something wrong with her mirror though, cuz I don’t see it at home . . .
So, I’m already starting to get a little sensitive about this getting old stuff, and then I had this interesting conversation 2 weeks ago:
There’s this little boy (who’s 10) who is absolutely adorable, but doesn’t really filter what he says. Anything’s fair game for conversation. He’s a real charmer and has an innocent honesty about him. He’s the type of kid, his dad tells me, that if he has a bag a candy he’ll offer them around, and when he realizes there’s none left for himself, he just shrugs his shoulders in an “oh, well” kind of attitude.
Well, at one point during the weekend, he looks at me and says, “So, how many wrinkles have you got?”
First, I’m speechless, and then I ask the dumb question, “How old do you think I am?”
His answer? 52.
Triple Yikes.
Good thing I like this kid.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

rainbows and unicorns

We’ve had some wacky weather around here this week. About 11 days ago, when I was getting my haircut, my stylist (who lives in the big city town) said it had been below freezing when she got up that morning. Now, we’re having a bit of a heat wave . . . Saturday was up to 29C/84F while Friday and today have been about 25C/77F . . . I mean, it’s not really super hot, but such a drastic change! Anyways, it’s also meant some lightning and thunderstorms . . . and rainbows, too:
I got a chance to go scrapbooking this weekend . . . Friday evening and all day Saturday. It was so nice to be able to get away without any distractions and do some power scrapping. I was working on our cruise from 2008 and I’m pretty close to finishing the album . . . another few hours should do it.
We’ve had a 4 day weekend! Thursday was kristi himmelfärsdag (Ascension) and is recognized as a statutory holiday here. Our school district also got Friday off (but will be in session on Saturday, May 22, in lieu). However, most other things were still normal on Friday . . .  Mattias had theory, I had physio . . .
I’ve spent several evenings working on a photo album (the online kind that you send for printing) for Sofia’s great grandmother. The orphanage’s Social Worker is coming to Helsinki in 2 weeks and we will go down to meet her, so we will take the opportunity to give her some things to take back to GG along with an explanation of why it would be better to wait a while longer to meet with Sofia . . .

PS – there’s nothing about unicorns here . . . I just thought it was a catchy title . . .

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

what are we’re up to . . . .

Sorry about the dangling preposition.
  1. I am officially enrolled in the University of Oulu (Uleåborg) so I can have a recognizable teaching degree. I have had all my documents scrutinized and analyzed and the Finnish Board of Education has decided that I must write 3 - 10 page essays in order to get a Finnish Education degree. Yesterday and this evening I spent Mattias’ soccer practices sitting in my van reading a textbook and taking notes on what it means to be a classroom teacher . . . .
  2. We have slowly begun the daunting task of landscaping our yard after the ditch-digging of last autumn. Oh my . . . where to begin . . .
  3. We managed to make it through 2 rough months of  PI aftershocks. Then, just days into a sense of calm, we got an email that Sofia’s great grandmother wants to come visit (we had told her she would be welcome) and that she already had got her passport. The SW had told GG that it might be a better idea if we meet somewhere (apparently, in Russia, it’s very common for relatives to visit for a whole week). When we ran the idea past Sofia, first she said that GG should come here and then a few minutes later she said “meet somewhere”. We were very low key about the whole thing . . . no pressure . . . whatever she felt comfortable with . . . However, the next day, we had some serious behaviour issues – ones we’ve never seen before. Obviously, it’s too early. GG’s health is not an issue, even though she’s elderly, so we’ll put off the visit until next year . . . Instead, we’ll send GG some photos and Sofia can make some things for her.
  4. 18 more days of school.
  5. Mattias and I just got back from a trip to Åland, the island that is between Finland and Sweden. It is part of Finland, but they have their own flag and it is predominately Swedish-speaking. We were there for a Music Fest for the Swedish-speaking schools in Finland. The children practice songs all year long and then get together and put on a concert. Ideally, they all sing together (3 years ago, when Sam participated, there were almost 300 students singing together – it gave me goosebumps). However, due to the venue this year, they had to divide it into 2 concerts with only about half of the over 3000 students singing at each concert. And, the parents/chaperones had to sit with their children, so it wasn’t quite as effective as the last one. However, it was a great experience. Well put-together, well-run and well-organized.
  • We left Wednesday afternoon and stayed at a hotel in Turku/Åbo. (We were 14 students + 15 parents + 2 teachers + one of the teacher’s 2 sons.)
  • We took the morning ferry to Åland on Thursday– the trip takes 5½ hours – then spent the afternoon shopping and sightseeing. In the evening we went to a concert that was a serious of performances by some of the school choirs participating in the event. We slept in a hotel while any other school groups got to sleep on school floors (I love that our school staff always has us travel in style.
  • On Friday morning the kids went to rehearse. In the afternoon we had a tour of a potato chip factory (yum) and did more sightseeing. In the evening was the Music concert – it lasted about an hour. After, the students marched in a parade to the park (about 1km away, near the ferry terminal) where there was an outdoor concert and disco for them. At 10:15pm there were fireworks and at 11:45pm our ferry left for Finland.
  • We got home at 6pm on Saturday.
  • Here is some photographic evidence:
P1030356 P1030362The students in grades 3-6 with their teachers.
P1030359Some of the parents.
P1030373 Mattias is climbing on the remains of a fortress’ wall (he’s not supposed to be).P1030375Sightseeing . . .P1030377    The parade (Mattias is in the blue coat in the middle).

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

heard at the dinner table

“I wonder what human meat tastes like.”
When you have 4 kids – 3 of which are boys – just about anything is fodder for discussion . . . This was Joel . . .

The Holms

Denmark Road Trip

The outskirts of St. Pete

St. Petersburg

Saint Petersburg: Sankt-Peterburg, Russian pronunciation: is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea. The city's other names were Petrograd (1914–1924) and Leningrad (1924–1991). Founded by Tsar Peter I of Russia on 27 May, 1703, it was the capital of the Russian Empire for more than two hundred years (1713–1728, 1732–1918). Saint Petersburg is home to more than two hundred museums, many of them hosted in historic buildings. The largest of the museums is the Hermitage Museum, featuring interiors of the former imperial residence and a vast collection of art. Celebrating the 300th anniversary of its foundation, Saint Petersburg was selected as the main motif in a recent Finnish commemorative coin, the €10 Mannerheim and Saint Petersburg commemorative coin, minted in 2003. The reverse of the coin features a view of Saint Petersburg, with the Peter and Paul Fortress and its three turrets. In the coin the words "St. Petersburg 1703-2003" can be seen.