And so it was Xmas

After the autumn we have had, I almost don’t have words to write down here.

Just gratitude that we made it to xmas and get to spend it with our special gang. Let the pictures speak for themselves.

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“Kuta pienempi itse, sita suurempi joulu tulee” – Tove Jansson 

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How to Grandparent from Across the Globe?

We are extremely lucky with both sets of grandparents. All four of them want to be involved in the boys’ lives, they are genuinely interested and incredibly loving towards the chaps.

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We definitely don’t take this for granted, as this is not always the case and frankly I believe it is every grandparent’s right to decide how involved (or not) they want to be. It is not always fun and games, especially with twins.

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The only problem with our grandparents is that they don’t live in the same country as us. My parents live a 3h flight away, and my husbands’ a 24h flight away. Yes, they literally could not be more far away. So in our everyday life we don’t have a so called safety network. If something unexpected happens or the boys get ill, we have to rely 100% on our wonderful au-pair and the ability to work from home.

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It is not easy, sometimes it terrifies me to think that there is no one to help and
also I feel sad for the boys. Sad that they don’t get to see their grandparents that often or their cousins, aunts and uncles.

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This also means that when we are all together, it is very intense “being together”. It’s not about getting together for a Sunday lunch or dropping the kids off to grandma’s house for a sleepover, it’s about living our everyday life with us, being together pretty much 24/7.

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But one of the reasons why I think they want to be involved, is because we let them. We let them come into our house and truly be “at home”. We let them do everything they want to do with the boys and participate in the boys’life in all possible ways, and we let them give advice and voice their opinions.

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Last year when the boys were newborns, our kiwi grandparents came over and stayed with us for three months. They helped us tremendously by participating in everything; feeding, bathing, night feeding, going to the doctor, keeping them entertained and happy. Being a new parent is a very overwhelming time so to have their support and experience was wonderful.

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When they went home they left behind two babies that couldn’t do much and when they returned this year they came to something completely different: two one-year-olds, who are walking and communicating and making a constant mess of everything.

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So what about in the meantime? A year is a very long time not to see each other, especially in the life of babies.

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I think it is the responsibility of us, the parents, to keep the grandparents in the mind of the boys. So how do we do it? We have grandma’s and grandpa’s pictures on the wall in the boys’ room and we look at them and tell the boys who is in the picture. We talk to the boys about grandma and grandpa and Skype regularly.

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And the other way round? Again, our responsibility. We want to keep the grandparents on top of everything that is going on in the boys’ life. What they are learning, what they are doing, who they are meeting.
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And how do we do this? About once a month I put together a Picasa “letter” from the boys with photos and stories about what has been going on. We tell them how much we miss them and love them.
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At the end of the day I try not to worry too much about our situation. This is our life and this is how it is. We are incredibly lucky to have such wonderful grandparents. And on top of the fabulous four we also have great bonus grandparents; my aunt and uncle, my sister-in-law’s parents, my husband’s lovely aunt and uncle. All wonderful people, there to help and form the village that raises our boys.
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Have a safe journey home grandma and grandpa. See you next year. Even if you are far away in distance, you are always close to our heart.

Life Is About

…finding a life partner who shares the same goals as you, but who is just a little different from you and pushes you to get out of your comfort zone.

And at first you go “blah, I don’t want to do this, what a drag”, but then you just go and do it, and you conquer your fear and you end up with an experience that exhilarates and amazes you, and catapults you up from the mundane everyday life and makes you feel really alive for a moment.

This was my high-flying little brother, somewhere near Munich, this weekend.

At Home – Part 2

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Well there you are my little warrior, what you doing? Hunting a dragon? Off to a battle?Breathing fire?

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You learn new things at such a pace, that we can’t keep up with you sometimes.

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You saw Dadda shave one morning and the next day you were doing the same. You want to show that you are a big boy.

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And you demand to do everything yourself. You used to find eating such a chore when it was just milk, but now that it’s different flavors and textures you love it. As long as you can do it yourself.

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The great lesson in life for you will be to learn about patience. I know, because you are like your mama bear, we are made of the same stuff.

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When you are angry the whole neighborhood knows. There is no negotiating with you when you are upset, but picking you up, holding you tight and giving you your rag and a soft toy helps.

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But when things are good there is no end to your joy and you charm your way to anybody’s heart. You little flirt.

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And we are so proud to see how you have become more social and accepting of other people. Now you approach other kids at the sand pit and you love your family.

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So our little Mr Fox Fantastic, be exactly how you are and continue to surprise, amaze and dazzle us like you do everyday; “Grow, far over your Mother”.

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At Home – Part 1

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You practically attached yourself to Ukki (grandpa) during our whole time in Finland. Was it because you share the same name or because you both are twins?

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We were so worried how you were going to manage without him back home in London that we took a couple of Ukki’s passport photos with us to show you if you needed.

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But we forgot how strong you are. Grandma says you are the mysterious one. “The silent fish with secrets” as the children’s song says.

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Just as it didn’t bother you that brother learned to walk before you. You weren’t stressed, you didn’t show that you were jealous. You took your time and started taking steps in your own time. With confidence.

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Now you reach for everything and climb on anything. Nothing can stop you when you put your mind to something.

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And most of all, you are happy. You smile when you see that brother is happy, you smile when you see mum and dad kiss, people who meet you for the first time say that you seem like you don’t have a care in the world.

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And you make us so happy. Our little lion.

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So go on, follow your own path. And we’ll just watch you from the sidelines, beaming with pride.

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Home Bound – In Transit

Travelling with a baby is a kind of an extreme sport in any case. Add to the mix that there are two babies, who have just learned to walk and you have been away for three months and have six big suitcases to carry, and oh did I mention that we were going to meet our au pair for the first time at the airport? Well let’s just say that the stress levels were soaring.

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In order to lower the stress levels we decided to stay the night at an airport hotel to give us all a break after the three hour drive from the summer house and take the first flight in the morning.

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The Hilton hotel at the airport was really great. Big, nice rooms and very friendly staff (not always to be expected in hospitality establishments in Finland). The boys felt instantly “at home” and started moving all furniture around before taking a lovely bath.

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The hotel provided two travel cots at no extra cost and the two rooms that we had booked were next to each other with an adjoining door.

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This meant that when boys went to bed, our au pair stayed in the other room, looked after the boys (and ordered some room service)  and we went downstairs and enjoyed a lovely dinner. What a great way to end your time in Finland, a super yummy Nordic tasting menu along with a glass of ice cold New Zealand white wine.

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The hotel started serving breakfast at six which left us just enough time to get ready, pack our bags, have breakfast and then walk five minutes to the terminal building to catch our flight to London.

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The flight went surprisingly well as the boys slept the most of it, but they were awake long enough to make us cancel our plans to take them to New Zealand next year (to meet that side of the family). A three hour flight is bearable, but two twelve hour flights to Auckland is a different ball game, a game that we dont want to participate in just yet.

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Yes, we were all a little bit tired and weary, but we were home.

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When You Love Two Countries

Another year has gone by, my maternity leave has come to an end. Three months have passed, our time in Finland is over and it is time to go back to our home in London. Goodbyes await, yet again.

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Anyone who spends their life living in two or more countries knows what I’m talking about. You are always saying goodbye to something.

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When you are in one place, you miss the other, but when it is time to go it is so difficult to say goodbye. It will be a whole year until we return to Finland.

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This year I got to stay longer at the summer house than I have probably ever stayed and so I do feel like my roots have been truly watered…but I can’t help to feel melancholic.
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I’m trying very hard to take mum’s advice; it is a richness to have such a wide circle of life and to love two countries. Whenever we return it is always exciting, special, memorable and fun. And how wonderful to get to go back home to London.

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All these photos were taken at our summer house during this cold, rainy summer and I will store them all in my heart forever.

Finnish Summer Ends

…relatively early. As the rest of Europe start their summer holidays in August, in Finland children are back to school and adults back to work.

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And the Finnish summer ends for us as well. On our last day at the summer house I wanted to immerse the boys in all things Finnish in the hope that some of it would perhaps stay with them….? A smell, a taste, a feeling?

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We went to see the Moo-Cows one last time and then went blueberry picking.

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Boys were picking and eating blueberries, sitting on moss and blueberry bushes and I holding back the tears. My little Finnish boys…when will we be back?

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The one positive thing about a cold, rainy summer is that the berries and mushrooms are everywhere! The blueberries, wild strawberries and raspberries are big and tasty.

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It was easy to pick a cup full for the evening porridge.

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We also found some chanterelles and made a lovely creamy chanterelle pasta for lunch. Everyone loved it, including the boys.

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In the evening we celebrated the “Ultima Noche” with some champagne and crayfish.

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We have been together with grandpa and grandma for so long now….

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How will we manage to be apart? Tomorrow we travel back home.

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Christening

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And so came the time to christen our boys. Usually in Finland babies get christened when they are two months old, but in our case the chaps didn’t even have passports at that age and I couldn’t consider organising this celebration anywhere else than at our beloved summer house. That is where we got married four years ago.

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Following the pattern of this summer, the day before and the day after the christening the weather was stunning, but on the day itself it was rainy and quite cold. But that didn’t matter as somebody suggested the great idea of taking the family portrait the day before and on the day itself we spent majority of the time inside.

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To organise anything with two little ones in tow can be quite challenging, so the stress levels were soaring as we were hosting 30 people for the party, 20 people stayed over and I had the fabulous idea of baking and preparing all food by myself.

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But it was a true family effort, all our loved ones (friends and family) did so much to help by organising, cleaning, baking, taking care of the boys, getting our Dadda from the airport in the middle of the night, taking photographs and much much more.

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So despite the stress, tiredness and craziness, it was a wonderful celebration and such a happy day. I was so proud of my little chaps and our little family.

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I think there aren’t enough parties and happy celebrations in life and that’s simply why we should go through the trouble of organising them sometimes. How wonderful it is to get the whole family together, pause for a minute, catch up and just feel grateful and happy.

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I read a poem to the boys at the christening:

“…that you would trustingly go and find what for you is good and beautiful and right…

…It is ok to make mistakes and try again, to change direction and opinion…

Always believe in dreams and hope for the impossible….” (Irja Askola) 

Kayaking – Our Style

After a couple of days of lousy weather and a not so promising weather forecast (partly cloudy, +15 degrees) we were surprised to say the least to be waking up to this.

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And a quick dash down to the pier confirmed the positive news, yes, the weather was good!

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My brother and my future sister-in-law are now holidaying here as well and when mum and dad offered to take care of the boys so that we could go out for a little kayaking tour we didn’t hesitate. “Let’s go!”

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On a day like this there is nothing better than kayaking, basically no wind, lovely and warm and no one else around.

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We kayaked slowly across the lake to a nearby “Panther Island” (name given by my late grandfather, only known by our family), at times paddling harder and at times letting the kayaks float in the water. The key is to close your eyes, lean back, lift your legs on the kayak and indulge in a bit of sunbathing at the same time.

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A fellow boater in a small motor boat passed by, waved his hand and shouted “That seems like quite a relaxed way to travel!”. You can say that again.

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