Santa and an Elf came to visit us bearing gifts for all of our children and I could not be more grateful. Knowing our application had been accepted took a huge pressure off my shoulders: I knew my children would have so many lovely presents to open this Christmas thanks to Amelia’s Rainbow and to all, who had donated to them.
Unfortunately Elisa was asleep when they came to visit and Melody felt too shy to pose for photos with Santa, so we have no photos from the occasion.
We let Melody choose one gift from her sack of presents to open then, and ever since the Barbie and Unicorn have gone with her anywhere – literally, anywhere. She has slept with them, taken them to have a bath with her, and I’ve allowed them in the car too… Elisa and Ruby both have all of their gifts yet to be opened, and Melody has more too waiting for her!
Within December, we’ve got more than four events with the DCF, the regular football sessions excluded from the count.
A Christmas party
where we got to see Santa, climb on board of a fire engine and Firefighter Melody got to spray water with a firefighters hose.. There were Squidge and Pop doing bubble magic and DJ Nose It got us all dancing… with a princess and a Spiderman!
Christmas edition of Comotion dance session was another blast. We all loved it, and not only because the ever-so-lovely Dorsey Bear came to visit!
Afterwards we walked to around the corner where there were some market stalls and animals to see and cuddle from Mill Cottage Farm Experience – Melody’s favourite was the guinea pigs, Elisa loved a bunny rabbit and I liked the goat. There were also a sheep, alpacas (that I accidently called llamas – ups), turkeys, ducks, chickens and roosters.
We had bought tickets to Honeybrook Farm, Wimborne, through the DCF. We went to see some lovely farm animals and played with tractors and in the play equipment in muddy conditions for one lovely sunny afternoon – and we had a tractor ride, a tour led by a funny Elf and visited the Santa’s Grotto, where we got to have our photos taken with Father Christmas. Kids got to choose their gifts, which was a nice bonus, as even the teenager found something she was interested in from the options available! All and all, we had a nice, relaxed family afternoon in a friendly atmosphere, surrounded by friends and other visitors.
Melody thought the pigs were the best!
Giggles is a soft play centre in Bournemouth where we have DCF session once a month. Towards the end of the Christmas period we have a Christmas spectacular party awaiting us at the Giggles, which will be fun!
I feel so incredibly lucky that we have already had so much to do this December and more still upcoming – as to previous years our activities were focused at home and highlights would include seeing “only” family.
It is so much easier to be active when a whole community full of friends is waiting for you to join in the fun; people who understand your struggles and need no explanations. When previously we had nothing specific to look forward to, only having our fingers crossed for a healthy holiday season without hospital stays, now look at us, having a calendar full of fully accessible events for the whole family.
I feel so blessed to be living in Bournemouth, with these brilliant local charities giving so much to my family. Regardless what next year brings us with Brexit and the new UK parliament, I feel reassured that there are these amazing organisations fighting our corners and giving our family so much opportunities to enjoy life and be part of it all.
We are blended family or “step-family”, which in itself is nothing unusual. Dan has a 14-year-old daughter called Ruby from his previous relationship, and he’s got two daughters with me – 6-year-old Elisa and 3-year-old Melody.
Ruby lives with her Mum and comes to ours every other weekend and sometimes between. Melody has started to question it recently, asking every day when Ruby will be with us and that where she is. She does know where Ruby lives – she calls it “Ruby’s house” – and like all of us, she misses her when she is not with us.
To make matters more confusing for a 3-year-old
Elisa has been going to Lily’s Place for respite care once a week, staying there overnight. During school holidays Elisa has gone there for two nights a week.
Therefore Melody is quite used to seeing her big sister off to Lily’s place that she promptly calls “Elisa’s house”.
How does Melody view this?
Melody is the only one who doesn’t do “sleepovers” just yet. As stated earlier, she calls Ruby’s mum’s place as “Rubys house”. Lily’s place is “Elisa’s house”.
The house where we all live in she calls as”Melody’s new house”. “Melody’s house” is the old place where we moved out of in October 2019.
Aren’t we lucky as all of our children already have their “own houses”?
In Melody’s new house, there is “Elisa’s room”. The biggest bedroom upstairs is “Melody’s room”, where she shares a bunk bed with Ruby. She claims the bottom bunk is hers and the top one is Ruby’s.
Order is crucial.
It get’s weirder though. As ever since Dan quit working and took on a carers role for Elisa, Melody has learned that Daddy looks after Elisa and Mummy looks after her. Now she has started to tell that Daddy is “Elisa’s Daddy” and Mummy is “Melody’s Mummy” – and she laughs and yells “Nooo!” if you correct her saying that Melody, Elisa and Ruby has got a same Daddy and Mummy is also Elisa’s Mummy.
So just that you know
– all of the girls have a same father, and Elisa and Melody are biologically my daughters. Do not believe the youngest of the family…
I can’t wait when her mind is blown with the fact that Grandma is Daddy’s Mum, and “Mummi” is Mummy’s Mummy and “Ukki” is Mummy’s Daddy…
Did your kids ever have similar type of peculiar ways of thinking?
As I posted before, I have struggled with my mental health recently. It could be just from pure exhaustion and dealing with change – I mean, did I mention we moved house? Yeah, we moved house. That comes with endless to do lists on top of the usual neverending list of things to do.
I had felt vulnerable and shattered.
I felt tired physically and mentally, trying to get the house sorted enough that it would be livable and not a constant trip hazard. It didn’t matter how much I managed to do during the day, I still felt like an utterly lazy and awful human being who hasn’t done nearly enough when I went to bed. I tried to be kinder to myself and change those critical voices in my head to something more compassionate, but didn’t seem to succeed.
Panic! at the shop
Then, couple days after the reported panic attack, I had another. I was shopping in Aldi and without any prompt or apparent reason, it hit me. A huge wave of pure mental anguish. I wanted to scream, cry and run out. I was at the fruit and vegetable aisles, clasping to my trolley for support. My chest felt tight, and the mental pain felt physical. It was painful pressure building up inside in me, filling me up, scrounging me hollow. It needed to release, and in its most painful state it used to be my previous impulse to harm myself somehow to give all that mental torment a way to discharge. This time, I snapped my fingers against the shopping trolleys handle and concentrated on breathing like an yogi. In while counting to three, out and counting to three. In…Out. In…Out. Pick up potatoes. In… Out… Pineapples. We need pineapples, pick two. In… and milk. Out..
I didn’t notice if people were staring at me, I paid no attention to any other customer or staff member there. It was just me, shopping, my psychological torture and breathing. I didn’t fight it, it never helps, I only counted to three and breathed in rhythm to it and picked up items into my shopping trolley.
By the time I had circled around all the aisles and was at the tills, the panic attack had eased. It had left me feeling weak, used up and unsteady.
A night out with the girls?
I got home okay. While unpacking the groceries I thought what to do next. I was supposed to go out that night with some other DCF mums, but the whole thought of going somewhere public, loud and full of other people with all that stimuli it brings about was too much. I felt another attack building inside me.
I didn’t give up straight away, as that would have made me disappointed in myself. I decided to have a shower, just to see if it helped.
Freshly out of shower, I felt better – but wobbly and weak. I could not face going out – it already felt too much having to drive to nursery to pick Melody up, but I had no other choice.
I sent an apologetic message to the other mums telling them honestly about my panic attack and that I could not come out with them that night, but urged them to go without me. They sent me sympathetic messages and I went to pick up Melody.
I never expected what happened next.
“Maiju, it is all arranged. We are coming to you. With food, wine and chocolates.”
The girls didn’t go out for dinner without me. As I couldn’t go out, they came to me. We sat around our tiny dinner table surrounded by the mess that is our daily life with surplus moving disarray, and they didn’t bat an eyelid. They brought everything with them that we needed, and we sat in our comfortable clothes, ate and drank and giggled. Even I cracked smiles and laughed, feeling more certain about myself around them. They made me feel better. They made me feel cared for, loved.
They made me realise I was no longer alone – I had mum friends that cared for me and were ready to change their plans to help me.
[I am aware I have never really been alone, I have friends abroad and here too, people I have met through different connections. It has been my own fault that I had not seen them that often or become that close to them. ]
How precious is that, how amazingly lucky am I?
Since that night, after those hugs and bottles of wine, I have felt steadier on my feet. I haven’t had another panic attack. I have made more of an effort to be kinder to myself, and celebrate the things I have managed to do. So far, so good. Additionally, just thinking about that night around our dinner table makes me smile. It fills me up with hope.
Hope for our future, hope for myself, hope in general.
Every school holiday they organise an event called “Housemates”, which is a lovely relaxed play session for the whole family. Parents can have a hot drink and a gossip with other Julia’s house parents while the disabled and their siblings are all entertained with arts and crafts, toys and games and sometimes even a child’s entertainer pops along. Last half term we met Jules the Entertainer, who is a master Balloon Modeller among other things.
We’ve never met him before and we were curious to see how he would do with our children’s requests. He made an unicorn balloon for Melody in no time at all, and when it was Elisa’s turn…
Can you guess what we asked him to make for Elisa?
If you have met Elisa, you should be already aware that she is the hugest fan of Futurama. She has loved it for years already and it still continues to entertain her to the fullest. Her favourite characters are the robot Bender and Dr Zoidberg.
Hearing this, Mr Jules sighed comically, took out his phone and searched up “Dr Zoidberg” from the Internet. Soon he had an image of the lobster up and he was modelling away, picking up balloons to match the colours and murmuring to himself while trying to work out the logistics of how to actually build up a weird creature with tentacles on it’s face. Elisa was fully entertained by just watching him, and everyone else around was having a ball seeing him “struggle”. Soon Elisa had worked out what he was making and the wonder on her face…
I like to believe that seeing the pure joy on my child’s face,
it motivated Jules even further. After he had made a balloon to every child in the event, he then did some research on Futurama themed balloon models. We carried on with the events other activities – Melody was busy decorating pumpkins and biscuits and soon was time for stories and songs.
In the end of the event we found Jules in the hallway crafting away with his balloons, building an even bigger Dr Zoidberg for our Elisa!
Elisa was so happy.
how can I explain the joy she felt when she saw the big balloon creature that looked like her favourite character from her favourite tv-show?
I was so taken aback by the generosity and the will to make my child happy that Mr Jules showed that it made me speechless. It did make me cry [of happiness]. In secret though, I did not want to embarrass Elisa nor Jules!
I could not think of any other way to thank Jules enough for what he did for my children than to write this blog post.
Jules the Entertainer
can not only do balloon modeling, but magic shows, fire stunts, stilt walking and circus workshops. He does do kids birthday parties – he is the “Bournemouths Children’s Entertainer” – and he is available for corporate events too.
I cannot recommend him for birthday parties as I have not yet seen him in anywhere else than at this Julia’s house event. If his compassion for the children he met that day. his eye for detail and his determination to bring joy and happiness to the children and their families are anything to go by, I would say he is an excellent choice as a party entertainment for anyone.
We all hope to see him soon again. Thank you Jules for making our children happy!
Have I yet mentioned that we moved house? Yeah. We moved.
Now I want you to put your imaginative hats on and wonder, how much material will a family of five have? Three kids, one of them a teenager, another a 4-year-old child and a 6-year-old. Add some extra with the additional medical needs of one of them, and those little bits that a growing Labrador puppy will have acquired. You might come to a close conclusion that there was quite a bit. Add some more baggage just to be on the safe side.
So, you can imagine the stress levels of two adults who are desperately trying to sort through all of it.
How to move it?
We were going to need some help on the actual moving day. We contacted our favourite moving company that we had used previously, and luckily they were able to book us in fairly soon.
The plan was to let the professionals handle all the furniture and other heavier objects that needed to be moved, and we would move the boxes and small things.
Who did we hire?
The company we used is called “WeMove“. We knew the founders as they handled one of our moves when they were only just starting out as a company. They really go above and beyond for what you expect a moving company to do – all of the team members that we’ve met have been not only polite but fun to be around; they make the stress levels lower down with laughter.
They are affordable.
Now, our financial situation has always been rather tough, but the wemove – people have always been courteous about it. As an example, first time we were about to hire them I told them straight up that we had a tight budget for how much we could pay them for. I was stressed about it, as I knew we could go no further than that and I was aware they charged for their services with hourly rates. What we could afford then equaled two hours worth of their work.
They accepted it and didn’t make a big deal out of it – and I didn’t expect to see them working as quickly as they did. They didn’t run, but they moved as fast as they could, moving our furniture from the old place to their van and strapped it in. Soon everything was packed up, driven to our new place and unloaded. It was all done within the time frame I had given.
It made me trust them.
They showed respect.
They were there to do a job well and quickly, even though working slower would (in theory) get them more money in their pockets. They play for the long haul, knowing that pleasantly surprised and happy customer is a customer won over for life.
We have now hired them three (3) times in total.
On our second move with them, the founders didn’t come to do the job personally themselves, but they sent us their lovely workmates who presented the same respect and work ethic to us than the founders themselves.
On our final move – this one – we had precisely the same experience than in the previous occasions. The teammates listened to our wishes, and they made it feel like everything is possible. It was no problem for them to go and complete a fridge-freezer swap for us. They took the fridge we had been using to Dan’s brother, and took the brothers fridge to our new place, with no complaints or weird looks to us at all. It was just part of their work day, no problems.
Would I recommend them?
Yes, I would.
My advice would be to be up and honest with them about what sort of a job you have in mind, and be as precise as possible about how much stuff you have that you would like them to help you with. The more they know, the better they can prepare for the job; so they will turn up with a vehicle that’s a right size for the job – not a small van for 5 bedroom all furniture move or their hugest vehicle to help you move out from your studio flat – and with right amount of work personnel.
They do have a handy tool for this online on their website here!
the whole team at wemove. You’ve made our moves so much easier to bare. I have written this blog post as a way to thank you for your kindness, hopefully reading this has brighten your day!
I had bought my laptop through Amazon, it was “certified refurbished”: secondhand laptop that had been fixed by someone who held Amazons approval for refurbishing laptops. I bought it with confidence, hoping it would last me years and years as its only job would be to provide me a blogging pathway. It did, without any apparent hiccups for couple of years.
One night as I was about to turn the beloved laptop off, it told me it needed to refresh itself with updates. That’s fine, I told it, just shut yourself down after you are done.
So it did.
It did it so well that it never woke up again. Next time I climbed up the stairs and got myself comfortable in my little hidey hole where I blogged, the laptop was off. I pushed the power button and nothing happened. Frowning, I checked the power lead, the plug and all the connections. Everything was attached to themselves as they should, but my black laptop still kept itself dark. I unattached the power cord and took off the laptops battery and clipped it back on again. I attached the cord and pressed the power button. Nothing.
I then contacted my in-house IT support – my partner Dan.
He did all that I had just done without getting a different result. That point I gave up on blogging for the night. The plan was to leave it charging overnight, just on the off chance that the laptop had just really drained all of its battery life out of itself.
In the morning, the little laptop was still lifeless. Dan took it downstairs to try whatever magical tricks he can do with all of his certified IT knowledge, and I trusted him to get it up and running in no time.
Even he could not get it to power up.
It wasn’t the battery, it wasn’t the leads – something had just happened to the internal organs of the device and it was undeniably dead.
It was a shock to me.
I stared at our bank account and wondered how on Earth would we be able to afford to buy another laptop, after all the money we’ve already used for moving house, furniture and even the bit that I have already done for Christmas. There was even more furniture that we are lacking and in definite need for, and it all would require some capital.
Could I go on without a computer?
Yes I could. I do have my smartphone and on that I could type out some blog posts if I needed to – it is not impossible, it is rather doable – but it is not as practical as doing it on a computer. Especially if you can touch type on the QWERTY keyboard like I do, with a speed of about 80 words a minute, typing with a smart phone is mind-numbingly slow.
I researched getting laptop through different financing options from several companies, comparing and making notes on what we could possibly afford with careful financial planning and what is definitely out of the question. In the midst of it we celebrated Halloween and as I posted photos of my beautiful kids in horrific costumes on social media I mentioned there about my dilemma, just on the off-chance someone had been waiting for a post update.
It didn’t even cross my mind…
Within minutes, I got a private message from my brother-in-laws girlfriend. She had a laptop that she no longer needed and she offered it to me. I was stunned. I sent many messages asking if she was really sure, if there was anyone else who she might want to keep the laptop for and I triple-checked if she really was certain about giving the laptop to me. She persisted.
On the same day, I was sitting with the brand new looking laptop in my possession and having coffee with my brother-in-law. The angel in disguise herself was at work.
Right now, I am already using that very same laptop to type out this blog post. I cannot express how lucky I feel, how grateful and … just speechless with gratitude.
I know there are nice people out there,
people willing to help out whenever they can. It just did not occur to me that someone might offer their laptop for me to use if I just mentioned I was in need of one.
Thinking about all this gives me a funny feeling in the bottom of my stomach, sort of warm, fuzzy tinkle. I feel… loved and supported. It makes me emotional and .. in a way embarrassed. That I was in a position that I needed help.
I know that if the roles were reversed, I would be there offering the help I was in place to give.
Have you noticed the same?
That you could offer to help someone without a second thought, full-heartedly and eagerly, but if you were the one receiving the help, you’d feel embarrassed, flustered?
Saying this, I am ever so grateful for my friend for doing this for me. It means a lot. With my whole heart,
Our family of 5 generate a lot of laundry. The washing machine needs to run at least once a day for me to be on top of the laundry game, and if I slack off or – like in this case, when the tumble dryer is out of the equation – the result is an enormous laundry pile.
It is autumn. In England. Even in “sunny Bournemouth” it does rain in autumn, so I couldn’t use our otdoor airer. I have an airer inside, but with the air circulation not being on the highest standards (in the old place), it takes up to two days for everything hanging to be dry.
Even with the most simplest maths, you can see how coming up to the moving day we were already facing shortages of fresh clothes and were avoiding the Mount Laundrest that was by our washing machine.
After we moved and Dan got the washing machine hooked on again,
the washing was singing its songs again with no problems at all. Without having a dryer or outdoor airer (and sunny days to go with it), we were hanging clothes on the radiators and the single airer we had. It didn’t take me long when I googled “launderettes near me”.
I found this little laundromat in Bear Cross that promised tidy space, tables and chairs to sit down on while waiting for your laundry and helpful staff. I was happy with that, so loaded with coins and three massive laundry baskets and a humongous bag full of dirty clothes and linen I found myself in the tidiest launderette I have ever seen. And I’ve seen many during my backpacking years!
The lady was helpful and lucky for me as a typical Finnish, she didn’t overindulge in small talk. She made me a cup of coffee and was happy to chat when I offered it, but she was as comfortable as I was to be sitting together in silence, minding our own business.
Business I did bring.
I had brought my laptop with me and hoped to do some blogging while the laundry was whirring away in the machines, but I was sooner ready than I expected. I had anticipated to spend a whole afternoon cramped up in a launderette, but all that laundry, including two duvets, took about two hours only to be washed and dried!
The lady of the house helped me fold the freshly washed laundry away which I was grateful about. Other times she busied herself cleaning the already pristine clean launderette when there was nothing else to do. For this I had no worries placing some of my damp clothes on the floor while sorting through them, the place was that clean! Considering I had just paid for them to be washed, mind you – it was not an inattentive act of mine.
At the time of visiting the pricing was as follows:
The big wash was £8, small £4.
Dryers: 50p for 5 minutes, £1 for 10 minutes.
You can use your own washing powder, though you can buy some there too separately.
As we still do not have a dryer,
it may just be that I need to nip to the launderette again. I have been doing the washing every day, so I am on it – but if I need to, I don’t mind going back to the Bear Cross Launderette again. I would even recommend it to a friend and you, who reads this blog post. If you need to wash your duvets or have a similar Mount Launderest at your home like I did, it could be worth spending couple quids at this launderette to get it sorted.
The launderette I went to can be found in
54 Anchor Rd, Bournemouth BH11 9HS Open every day from 7:30am – 8:00pm tel. : 01202 571344
This is not a paid collaborative blog post – if it was, it would have been mentioned at the very beginning of this blog post.
The stomping foot, arms crossed, protesting lower lip. The crying and screaming, the trembling body. The lovely classic signs of a temper tantrum.
There are times when I find it extremely hilarious.
When we are not in a rush and we are not having a temper tantrum over wellies or sandals on a rainy day. On those situations the problem might be solved with a conspicuous
“I understand you, I hear you, I know you want the sandals but it’s raining outside and you don’t want your feet to get wet now, do you? No? I thought so, so let’s save the sandals for another day and we go and find your lovely Peppa Pig wellies now.”
If it only worked…
But then there are the most entertaining temper tantrums when the child herself forgets why they are stomping their foot. The very mood when anything you offer is thrown back at you with a solemn “no”.
Like the other night at bedtime.
We had just finished our routine of brush your teeth – bath – pyjamas – hair – and it was time to pick a book for bedtime story. All of a sudden I see my child protesting and trashing around on the bed.
“Do you want your teddy?” “No!” “Do you want your drink?” “No!” “Do you want the monkey book for bedtime story?” “No!” “The Gruffalo book?” “No!” “Do you want mummy hug?” “No!” “Daddy hug?” “No!” “Do you want a kiss?” “No!” “What would you like?” “No!” “What, you would like a ‘no’?” “No!” “Okay,” I inhale and shout as loud as I can master, knowing that Elisa’s night carer is just next door, “NO!!!!!” That startles her. She turns to stare at me. “Is that what you wanted?” I asked. “No…” She says and sniffs. “What would you like then?” “No.” “Another one? Really?” “No.” “Okay then… NO!!!” I shout and slam my hands on the bed too, for the effect. Melody can’t hide her smile. “Right, would you like to pick a book now?” “No.” “What, no book?” “No…” “What would you like?” Melody cracks another smile. “No..?” “Okay, last one…. You ready?” “No..” “NO!!!” I shout. She dissolves in laughter.
I gather my giggling child up in my arms and once she’s stopped laughing, I tell her we are going to lie down on the bed now. I knew that if she wanted a book at that point, she would tell me so – but I suspected the whole tantrum was caused by her being so tired. Without another protest, she settles down next to me.
“Mum?” Melody asks. “Yes, Melody?” “Cuddle me.” I wrap my arms tighter around her. “Melody?” “Yes, Mummy?” “Hug me.” “Okay okay…” and she wraps her slender arms around my neck. “Night night, Melody.” “Night night, Mummy.”
Couple more minutes, and she was fast asleep. I disentangle myself free and just watch her sleep, before I tiptoe back downstairs.
There is another Tantrum Tamer that I’ve used
Instead of explaining it, I just show you the video where I got the idea from.
On a video, Dad is holding a little girl in his arms. The girl is crying. Dad tells her that it’s his turn now and starts to wail himself. The girl stops sobbing and stares at his father (through the screen). Father stops crying and tells the girl it’s her turn to cry now. The girls answers with “no”. Dad takes couple more turns on crying, but the girl is done and doesn’t want to cry anymore.
Melody responds with “NO!” first, then runs to cover my mouth when I “cry”. She’s by then stopped crying herself, so we can have a conversation about what went wrong, why we were upset. Occasionally the conversations go horribly wrong and I find myself witnessing another tantrum… but after a couple of turns with “crying”, we usually do end up fixing the situation for real.
How do I solve the wellies versus sandals issue?
I am not so proud of this one.
Too many times we disagree about the clothing and instead of getting ready to go, we squabble over summer hats or woolly hats, lost socks and sun lotions or if she can bring whatever unpractical toy with her.
There was a time when she didn’t believe I would leave to go to nursery without her.
We had been trying to get ready, but disagreed on I-cant-even-remember-on-what, and I had used all the reasoning power I had and the situation was not resolving. So like a mature adult that I am, I said
“Well, if you are not doing what I ask you to do, I’m going without you.” I paused to see if that made a difference. It didn’t. “Okay then, bye bye, I’ll see you later!” I got up to my feet, walked to the door, opened it, stepped outside and closed the door. I heard the wailing scream immediately. I counted to three and opened the door. “Would you like to come with me?” “Yes please,” she sobbed and ran to my arms.
I had no problems getting her dressed the way I needed her, and she was the laughing usual self already on our way to the car.
If I struggle with the same issues now,
all I need to say “Okay, I can go without you then, bye bye” when she then hastily says “No noooo!” and runs to do what I need her to do and off we go.
(Needless to say, this is the very last resort – it would loose it’s magic if I overdid it. Also, I do not want my child to live in a constant fear that I would actually leave her behind [never]).
To warn anyone who sees me and Melody at a supermarket..
I am definitely one of those parents who will throw a “temper tantrum” on a floor just to shut their kid up. If she can do it, so can I.
So far, she’s been too good while shopping. Such a little angel helping me carry my shopping basket, getting my products for me and doing every little bit to help me where she can. But one day.. One day I will find myself on a floor pretending to have a temper tantrum.
As this blog is very fresh, I thought it would be quite appropriate to introduce myself a bit better. I dug out some odd 30 #gettoknowme questions and answered them.
In short, I am a mother of two and a step-mother for one teenager. My eldest child has complex medical needs. But what else is there about me?
1. Where did you grow up?
I grew up in a small village in Finland called Juankoski. The village and its surroundings had only about 5000 residents back then, so I grew up in a tiny community where everyone knew everyone.
2. Where do you currently live?
I am so fortunate to live in beautiful Bournemouth, United Kingdom. Not only because of the award-winning beach, but the whole package – the countryside girl in me is happy with the parks, woods and forests that Bournemouth has to offer me and my family, but also Bournemouth is buzzing town of 183,491 residents with so much to do!
3. How tall are you?
In common terms, I’m 165 centimetres tall, which is 5 foot 4 inches for the British.
4. Do you have any siblings?
I am so lucky to have two (2) amazing little sisters, who both live in Finland.
5. Funniest moment throughout high school?
One day me and my friends decided to give out free hugs for all that wanted them. We all wore signs on our chests proclaiming “free hugs!” and I remember how jittery I felt throughout the whole day. How excited, nervous and happy. Who would stop for a hug? I can’t remember any specific embrace, all I remember is the nerves of the day and the joy it brought myself!
6. What year were you born?
I was born on a Year of the Dragon – 1988.
7. Are you in/have you gone to college?
I did study Tourism and Hospitality Management in Jyväskylä’s University of Applied Sciences.
Interesting fact: Finnish education system differs from United Kingdom.
I started school when I was 7, as is usual for Finland. First 1-6 years are classed as primary school, then the next 7-9 years are “junior high school”. That makes me 15 to 16 year-old when I was done with the compulsory school. We don’t have any national exams during our compulsory schooling.
I chose to go to high school – or “upper secondary school” – which carried on for 3 years for me, making me 19 years old when I graduated. During the last year of high school we are given the option to partake in A-levels. It is not compulsory and you can graduate from high school without them, but usually people do take A-levels. So did I.
8. What is your favourite drink?
Coffee. White, no sugar, thanks!
9. You’re wearing perfume, what scent is it?
Sweet and floral.
10. Have you got children?
Yes, I am very proud mum of two beautiful children and even prouder step-mum for one amazing teenager.
To live happy and fulfilling, meaningful life. Along the way with the resources I have, I aim to change lives around me and the world for better too.
12. What is your biggest strength?
My determination. If I’ve decided on something, there is almost nothing you can do to change my mind. Just ask my partner Dan.
13. Have any books you read changed your life?
I wouldn’t say that they’ve changed my life per se, but influenced it with an encouraging hand. Such books would be “Big Magic” and “Eat Pray Love” from Elizabeth Gilbert, my favourite author. I love her in all podcasts I’ve heard her in too!
14. What is your favourite film?
Oh deary me. I’ve never liked this questions as there’s not ever been one film over all others. But I do love these films:
Avenger – films from Marvel.
Dance films like Dirty Dancing, Step up and Save the Last Dance.
Matrix – films
The first 6 Star Wars – films
15. What relative was important to you growing up & why?
My cousin and godmother. She was my penpal, even though she didn’t live far, and I had sleepovers at her place regularly from quite young age and even spend one summer at hers when I was already a grown-up. I had always felt that she was my confidant, my adult friend.
Now I’m so proud to be her youngest godmother.
16. Who are your favourite YouTubers?
I guess I show my age here… Even though I am aware of YouTubers and talk about them with Ruby, I do not follow any of them. The only YouTube channel I visit religiously is “Yoga with Adriene“. I love her videos and her easy way to giggle to herself, it has helped me to be less serious about doing yoga and making me to do it just for myself. Just like it should be, I guess.
17. Do you speak any languages and how well?
I’m native Finnish speaker and believe it or not, but at school English was the one subject I struggled the most.
In addition I studied Swedish. I understand it and I can form simple sentences, but I’m so rusty with it as I have not used it at all since school.
I have studied Russian, French and Italian on top of those, but I only remember some odd phrases. While I was in Greece I learned to read Greek and I do still remember some phrases. I’m sure it all would come back to me if I just practised.
18. Are you single or taken?
Sorry to be a smart ass but no-one has taken me. I fell in love with an English man and he loves me, so we choose to be together.
19. What is your favourite Netflix show?
The OA, which I’m so sad about that it has got cancelled! I also like the Black Mirror, Stranger Things and Friday Night Dinner.
20. Show us your songs tab on Spotify.
Sure, I guess the easiest way to show it would be sharing the link to the profile where you can see the stuff what I’ve been listening to. The Jellies on Plates and Baby Sharks are on heavy rotation during our nursery runs with Melody…
21. What is the craziest thing you have ever done?
Must be when I left to Australia on my own just after graduating from high school. I had not lived on my own yet, so I flew straight out from my parents nest to the other side of the world… And survived there for 2 years loving every minute of it.
23. Have you ever failed at anything and what did you learn?
A bigger scale fail would be failing to complete my education and graduating with a degree. I had it all planned out and I was supposed to continue my studies during the pregnancy and right after, I had my practical training places sorted out and I even had ideas for my thesis. Then Elisa was born prematurely and just like that studying was the last thing in my mind.
Years have flown by and I haven’t got back to it. I feel like I’ve failed – but I have learned to let it go. The world didn’t collapse even though I didn’t become a professional in hospitality management – and to be perfectly honest, I’m not quite sure if I would like to work at that sector anymore, unless I can tie it up with accessibility and disability somehow.
24. How many countries have you travelled to?
I used Traveltip.org’s website for making this map, but didn’t give the website any personal information, just saved the map once it had been generated.
Needless to say, I did most of my travelling before the kids, before my life was turned upside down.
25. Do you have any bad habits?
I don’t drink alcohol unless I go out, which happens rarely, and I don’t smoke anymore.
According to my waist line, I overindulge in food. My favourite treat is ice cream, especially Ben and Jerry’s, and I love chocolate. Those are though treats, not daily bad habits.
One daily bad habit would be not going to bed in time..
26. Do you have any pets? Show them!
My lovely labrador pup Freya, who is about 8 months old now.
That would be either the 101 days that Elisa spent in hospital continuously or when Elisa was fed through nasogastric tube and was attached to a feed pump 20 hours a day and struggled with reflux, which meant constant supervision. We had no support yet in place, and Melody was still a baby. I honestly don’t know how me and Dan survived those times…
28. What is one thing you wished people knew about you?
I suffer from depression and anxiety, which I am on medication for. It is entirely possible I might also suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) looking at my past 7 years and all that has happened.
Sometimes I struggle when I’m out in a social situation, even with “safe” people who know me and my family. The anxiety hits and usually knocks me right out, making me quiet and “turned off”. I might smile, I might look at you, but wouldn’t say a thing. If I try to speak it might sound muffled and the sentences would be bad english – that’s me trying very hard to be polite and make my foggy panicky brain work.
It is not me being proud, funny or rude, it’s just me battling my inner-demons.
29. Tell us one thing about you that we wouldn’t know?
I am obsessed with notebooks : I love drawing and journaling. I even had to start an Instagram account just for my journaling stuff..
Freya arrived to our family in March 2019. It was made possible with rigorous saving up – we committed putting aside tiny amounts of money weekly in to a savings account for a very long time – and research.
In my teens I had had a dog, but ever since I moved to UK I haven’t had a furry friend of my own. It was almost a dull ache in my existence, not having the sound of four paws pounding next to me at all times.
As with Elisa’s complex needs,
I realised I could train the dog to help her. I looked into many breeds, trying to narrow the choice down to what we wanted and needed and what needs the breeds have.
My favourite breed is a shetland sheepdog – my previous dog was a sheltie. Even though I knew that breed very well, I crossed it out from the list. I wanted to teach the dog to help Elisa with her dystonic episodes by laying next to her and maybe even on top of her spasming arms, so the dog needed to be strong and heavy. Lightweight sheltie would have flown off Elisa once her forceful dystonia kicked in..
Taking everything into account,
we decided on a working type Labrador (read from Labradorsite.com about the two types of labradors). It would be agile enough to jump on Elisa when she’s on her wheelchair and strong enough to hold her down if needed – also the eagerness to please and learn were definite positives. I was aware of the negatives, the mouthing (the “need” to grab everything and anything and the constant chewing) and the endless energy, but I was ready to crack on and work with those in mind too.
When I went to see Freya,
I liked her curiosity and calmness. She didn’t yap like her brothers. She wasn’t shy and she was keen on examining me and Melody when we sat there on the floor getting to know the pups. She did mouth, but I had expected that anyway. She let me roll her around, didn’t protest or get anxious, and there I was sold. Freya seemed like the confident little addition that I wanted to have in our family.
After couple of more weeks, she came home and fell in love with Elisa almost instantly.
Freya has proved herself to be a sassy little lady, who only barks at neighbours cats and is endlessly interested in everyone. She loves cuddles and wants to be with her humans at all times.
Freya keeps testing my patience in daily basis,
and we have walked a long way together already – from learning out of the habit of mouthing to walking nicely on a lead. We are not perfect yet, but we are so getting there.
Above all, the kids love Freya.
Elisa is calmer around her – when Freya is close to Elisa, her dystonia seems to ease up. Melody has an “always-ready-to-play” playmate out of Freya – they’ve got the games of their own from the start.
Ruby is eager to teach Freya tricks.
Freya is my therapy dog. She calms me down when I feel anxious, and she is my pass to get outside for a long walk daily.
She is a dream come true. Not perfect, but we are all learning together.
So what does Dan think about the dog?
“Oh it’s alright. Whatever makes you happy, it makes me happy. No big deal.”