Before moving to Finland, I did a lot of research about life in Finland.
I felt like I knew what to expect and what our challenges might be. Sure, there were a few surprises (like Sam having school for only 3 - 4 hours a day), but in general we have been able to meet our challenges and move forward.
But...(you knew there was a but coming, right?)
...I didn't know that it is very uncommon for 5 year old Finnish children to stay at home with Mom or Dad. And so, our biggest challenge here in Helsinki has been finding friends and activities for Lily and I.
We gave it the ole collge try--we really did. We tried Expat play groups, but even the expats take advantage of the child care system here--most of the children at the playgroups were 2 and under.
We looked for schools/day care for Lily, but the waiting list was always too long--she would have been able to start, well, right about now. Since we return to the States in 2 1/2 months, it just didn't seem worth the wait.
We looked for activities like gymnastics or ballet, but the prohibitive cost and the scheduling just didn't work out.
Then, we met another American family.
And let me just say, are we ever glad we met the M Family!
It's so much more fun to explore Helsinki when there is someone to play with!
(Lily is wearing a scarf because my thermometer, which sits in direct sunlight, led me to believe it was really warm out before we left the house. In fact, it was NOT warm, AT ALL! I refuse to buy another winter hat, so in desperation, I had to buy something to cover her cold little ears!)
And isn't it much more fun to play "throw-the-dinosaur-up-the-slide" when someone is actually at the top of the slide catching the dinosaur? (The catcher would be Sam, or in the case of the first photo, my forehead--ouch).
Brothers and sisters are fun to play with (sometimes),
but it's also nice to have a new friend to hang with at the park!