Blogging from school!

Today I’m sitting in room 302 at Helmi-Liiketalousopisto taking part in a blogging class. So far I am a little ahead of my classmates, if only for the fact  that I already have a WordPress account and an active blog. My neighbour just asked why I am here, to which I answered that I am always looking to learn new things!

I’ve just created a new blog, however I’m not ready to share it with you just yet.

In the meantime, let’s examine my spam that has arrived in the recent days:

In response to my tongue-in-cheek Hat post came this little gem: Wow! This can be one particular of the most useful blogs We’ve ever arrive across on this subject. Basically Wonderful. I am also a specialist in this topic so I can understand your hard work. Glad to know that I’m not the only specialist in this area!

Six Word Saturday 29.9.2012


Ajatellen suomi. Luen suomi. Puhun suomi.


Translated it means (I) Think Finnish, (I) Read Finnish, (I) Speak Finnish.

This week I let myself down by not speaking Finnish. It was a small group presentation to the rest of the class. We’d been planning everything in Finnish, so it wasn’t that I didn’t know what we were talking about. I had merely presumed that the two ‘leaders’ or dominant personalities would be doing the speaking. So when the paper was thrust in my direction for the third and final part, I panicked. Promptly shoved it back to the first person. Everybody laughed and the presentation went on.

Immediately I passed the paper back I thought to myself ‘what are you doing?’ My only issue was that I hadn’t had time to practice in my head what or how I would say it. It was also the first time speaking FINNISH to an audience.

Thursday afternoon we had a ‘chat session’, (online messaging other class members and our main lecturer) and I mentioned my ‘moka‘*. The teacher immediately said that it doesn’t matter if it’s not perfect, as long as the meaning of my message gets through. She went on to say many Finns aren’t exactly perfect when they get up to speak 😉

Promise made to self: next time I just run with it. As with public speaking in English, it can only get easier with practice.

* Mistake

Six Word Saturday: 25.8.2012


Absolutely! We made the right decision.

This refers to my Decisions, Decisions post I wrote towards the end of last year. We were faced with some choices that we had to evaluate and would impact family life for the next few years.

When the results were in, the parents were very happy, Mr. 13 was less than impressed.

We didn’t stress the new school, and on the Sunday before it started Mr. 13 announced that while he was looking forward to going to school, was there a way we could jump straight to day 2?!

Two weeks are up, and while it may be early days still, Mr. 13 is very happy at school. Can’t ask for more than that.

Last lesson of the week

Taken while I was waiting to make a big announcement to Mr. 12’s class.


What big shoes they have!

(I’m posting from my phone and haven’t quite worked out all the editing commands, so if it looks odd… well I’ll get to it when I get to it!)

Decisions, Decísions Part II

Today is brought you to by The Rolling Stones and You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Just before Christmas last year I wrote about our big decision. Today at midday, it all came together. Each school applied to, and tested for; posted the list of accepted applicants on their front door. Physically, in list format, on white paper! Shortly afterwards the same list appeared on their respective home page. Mr. 12 and his class had scheduled a short field trip to visit the local upper school (and first choice of many) to check out the list in person. I decided to take a short bus trip to visit the other school applied to (with the art focus). It was possible that he would have to still make the decision if both schools offered him a spot.

Then came his call. Poor boy was in tears. Unfortunately his first choice was a no-go. We talked a little about it not being the end of the world, he’d done his best, etc. It wasn’t the best conversation, partly for his distress and partly I was on the bus and would have felt more comfortable comforting him in person.

By the time I got to school # 2 I was starting to feel nervous! I stood a little way from the front door, taking deep breaths before stepping forward and looking for our surname. Luckily I found it quite quickly. So far so good. Then I realised there were many different lists. Each class type had its own list. Aargh! Was Mr. 12 in the right group? Art group? YES!!! 

As today was such a special day, his class teacher allowed phones to be open. Luckily I could call Mr. 12 and passed on the good news. It was received calmly, with not much fuss. As expected really. Mr. 12 had his heart set on the bi-lingual class. Of course: all his friends are going there. Art class was not high on his wish list due to the total lack of friends going there. The Engineer got yet another text message: there would have been quite many on his phone by the time he woke.

School was over eventually and one very tired and emotional young man appeared in my office. We hugged and spoke for a while. Then I opened up the pages for the schools and we looked at the lists again. One name popped up that we hadn’t heard for many years: Mr. 12’s best friend from kindergarten was accepted to the class Mr. 12 missed out on. The irony of it…

Swimming practice called and Mr. 12 headed off. Not exactly his usual keen self, although not exactly depressed either. The Engineer called him and they chatted about whatever it is men chat about at times like this. Mr. 12 arrived home after swimming much more relaxed and happier than he’d been when he left. How much of that can be attributed to the swimming and how much to time and chatting with dad: well my theory is that it’s a combination of all of these things.

So now we are faced with a new school, new friends, new everything next autumn. The next emotional day will most likely be the last day of school and that’s less than three months away. The Engineer and I firmly believe that this is the best outcome. Art and particularly drawing (and lets throw in some small model creating while we’re at it) is Mr. 12’s thing. You can see the passion in his face. The new class will allow him to fully explore all aspects of art and maybe find some new areas of expertise. 

I think we have passed the worst now. Well perhaps first day of grade 7 will be a little rough. That’s months away, and we have all summer to mentally prepare ourselves for the new school. Mr. 12 was quite happy when I said goodnight. We’ve already decided that he can join Facebook on his 13th birthday (maybe even a few days earlier) and friend up with his class mates. If the friendships are meant to last, it will take more than a change of school to break them up.

Now it’s my bedtime! Depending where you are, hope your Thursday finishes off just fine or Friday starts funky! 

The year that was (2011 in review)

The new year rapidly approaches. We have fireworks (and safety glasses) ready. We travel west this year to see the new year in with old friends. The menu is planned, the drinks have been organised. Snow would be nice. A little would go a very long way. The forecast is not promising. I may or may not post between today and the 31st. Likelihood of getting another post out of me this year is 50 /50 as Mr. 12 would say. Read on for the year that was…

January: We saw the New Year in onboard a ship sailing over the Atlantic. Once on the other side, we took in a few days in the parks of Orlando. I discovered two things: snorkeling is NOT my thing, scary fast rides are! It was to have been a once in a lifetime trip. However it looks like we’ll be repeating the journey. With a few changes. Stay tuned.

February: Plenty of snow in Helsinki. The Engineer escaped to Miami for a work gig while we dug our way out… Mr. 11 skated and swam through his spare moments.

March: The farmari (station wagon) went to the shop for repair and insurance covered a replacement car. I fell in love immediately! If ever we become a two car family and I get to choose … I know exactly what to get. It’s only got three doors. Totally impractical. I WANT!!!!

April: In 2010 we’d already taken our Platypus out of storage. Not this year. Easter came and went and still we couldn’t get to the sea. Training for my road races started and The Engineer kept himself busy with new servers and storage in the sky. I mean in the clouds. Something, somewhere, just not in this physical world.

May: The Engineer was basking in the Venice’s spring sun, while Mr. 11 and I celebrated May 1st in blustery, windy conditions. We watched Havis Amanda * get her foamy bath and I struggled to get online at the same time. Too many people in the one spot all using 3G. Platypus returned to the sea again. Finally…

June: My first road-race of the year. Seriously hot and sweaty by the end. My time was 15 minutes longer than the previous year. 30 + degrees in the air, 50 + degrees on the road probably had something to do with that. Mum and Dad arrived for their second visit to Finland, just in time for Midsummer **. They took off on a midsummer cruise around the Baltic while we took Platypus to a local guest marina and grilled up a storm. Mr. 11 became Mr. 12.

July: Two weeks in a cottage by the sea. A first for us, and not as bad as I had envisioned. Took some getting used to though, by the end of the second week we had a very nice routine. Sauna and a swim everyday helped. Mr. 12 attended his first concert: Roxette and of course in the spirit of all true concert goers has the t-shirt!

August: I decide that if I’m moving, now is the time. I set in motion something that I’ve been talking about for over a year now. I’ve been thinking about it for many more. Mr. 12 starts 6th grade. The Engineer hits the road again after the summer holiday season draws to a close. We head east for the traditional end of summer party. Location was Kaunissaari (Beautiful Island) where we oohed and aahed to the fireworks. The neighbouring boat’s crew decided to party until dawn. I don’t mind that, if only they’d play some decent music 😉

September: We traveled to Estonia for a weekend away. Coming from Australia, where you need to fly 8 hours just to leave the country, it has always amazed me that a neighbouring country can be so close. Thanks to Schengen rules, there’s no passport control and very little in the way of customs inspections. The annual school sports day has a different approach this year due to the sports ground being renovated. Mr. 12 and his fellow students walk for The Baltic. They get to dress up in a sea / marine theme and raise money at the same time.

October: Platypus comes out of the water for winter storage. We make a long weekend out of the transfer trip, stop one night at a spa, the next night the northern-most guest harbour in Åland, where again we swim and sauna. Sunday is spent removing anything that could possibly get mouldy, emptying the tanks and general maintenance. Our return to Helsinki is hampered by track works. Our train trip became a bus trip, with The Engineer, Mr. 12 and I all sitting on different rows.

November: MIL has a cockatoo called Ippe and for many years we’ve commented that his cage sucked. Too small, too crappy. Not a nice place for a cheeky bird to live. This year we went to the pet show with the idea to see what sort of cages are available. A little internet research beforehand gave us an idea of price (big) and quality (strong), along with some hints on just how much space one bird should have. Before we knew it, we were the proud owners of one slightly used cage. (Previous use extended to housing the birds on display at the pet show.) Fast forward to the next weekend, we sprint to Rauma, throw a cage together after washing piece by piece, transfer Ippe to his new home and sprint back to Helsinki for a rare adults only night on the town.

December: Christmas and Christmas parties. The Engineer is either on the road or on the phone. School breaks for a two-week Christmas holiday. Presidential election fever grows. My replacement at work is confirmed and her starting date set. I started blogging. New Years Eve preparations well in hand. Mr. 12 gets to celebrate with old, not so often seen friends. The Engineer gets to celebrate with the same good friends (plus a 50th birthday party earlier in the day). I get to make lots of yummy food, and chaperone Mr. 12 and co. Not that they need so much watching… however, teenagers + fireworks has the potential to end badly. Finally I also get to celebrate with all of the above.

On a final note, there are no new years resolutions from me. Been there, done that, didn’t work. Only when I really wanted something did a resolution of mine work. It wasn’t at new year either.

Wishing you a safe and peaceful new year.

* Statue located in Helsinki’s city centre. Traditionally students from one of the universities wash her every May Day and place a white student cap on her head. Much sparkling wine drunk.

** Midsummer is sacred time for Finns. We all leave town and head for the cottage by the lake or the sea. Often the start of one’s annual summer holiday.

Decisions, Decisions

Mr. 12 heads to upper primary school next autumn. * Yesterday the guide-book for the Helsinki school district came home, along with a second guide-book for grade 6 students. Now we have to work out from the myriad of options, which school?!

First some language background. Mr. 12 is bi-lingual. We operate the one parent one language model at home. The Engineer speaks Finnish, I speak English. The common language is mostly English, although maybe Finnglish is a good description. Finland also has two official languages: Finnish & Swedish. Depending on your mother tongue, instruction in the 2nd ‘domestic’ language starts anytime between 3rd and 7th grade. Our Mr. 12 started in 4th grade, and although it hasn’t been an easy experience for him, his pronunciation is quite good as is his comprehension.

Anyway, back to the decision! Do we stay with the bi-lingual schooling? Along with the rest of his friends? The upper school actually offers 100% Finnish, bi-lingual and then 100% English. The catch: aptitude and skills test to be admitted. The 2nd catch: there are not enough spots for all the students who want to do the bi-lingual line. The third catch: Mr. 12 doesn’t do tests well. Now I hear you say ‘no one does tests well’! Unfortunately Mr. 12 does them REALLY BADLY. Luckily we’ve had a lot of support from his teachers working with this. Still there is no getting around the test.

The Finnish system is such that in urban areas the local school should be within walking distance. Here in Helsinki, the city covers the trip to & from school on public transport **. We have a really efficient network, so Mr. 12 gets lifts to school very rarely. So, we could of course, just go to the school that is our closest or local school. This school offers extra tuition in art, which is something that Mr. 12 enjoys. The catch: there’s a test 🙂

This one is a really tough decision: stay bi-lingual? Do we go 100% Finnish? Do we go to the local school without taking the art test? With the art test? Right now all we can do is mark a heap of dates in the calendar for the first three weeks of January in order to attend the information sessions for prospective students and families. We mark the last day of submitting paper work. We discuss with Mr. 12 (he’s stated his preference is the upper school), we look at the schools and read up on anything we can get our hand on.

What other criteria should we examine?

* Grades 7, 8 & 9.
** if your school is outside your local area and the door-to-door journey is more than 2 km.