Taylors in Finland

The Grand Adventure

Mary Ann's Fulbright Exchange to Oulu, Finland
August 2001 - June 2002

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2-6 January 2002

2 January 2002
Sunrise/sunset 1021/1423
Hi/low -27°C/-17°  (-17°F/1°F)
Off with a bang!


We started our Spring Term on Wednesday, January 2nd. All the kids were pretty tired; they had not recovered from staying up on New Year’s Eve to watch the fireworks. Their teacher was equally tired. We were given information that the first and second grade classes would have, on Thursday and Friday, their first two days of the five days of swimming lessons provided by the City of Oulu.

What an experience. The city has just remodeled the Raksila swimming facility that is, of course, indoors. There are six pools of differing depths and sizes including an Olympic-size pool with a high dive; two of the pools have waterslides. Three of the pools were being used to teach swimming lessons and three were in use for lap swimming or water aerobics. The water is perfect for swimming; the children didn’t even wince when they jumped in. After the children finished their lesson they had ten minutes to shower and sauna. It was a great way to ease back into the rhythm of school for the children. They had two classroom lessons, swimming and then went home. The swim lessons and warm water had sapped their energy.

5 January 2002
Sunrise/sunset 1017/1430
Hi/low 2°C/-2°  (36°F/28°F)

We were invited to our next-door neighbors to help celebrate the birthday of their oldest son, Kalle. He had about five other children as guests. The children come in costume for birthday parties; he was Superman. They don’t celebrate Halloween here, like we do in the States, so this is their chance to dress up. On his request, his mother, Marjo, had written a story about a Snowman that went to the moon in a rocket. The children acted the play out as she told the story.

Marjo had made a snowman birthday cake. Guess what Kalle had requested to eat? Pizza! The same as kids in the States. One difference was that Marjo had made the pizza from scratch. After pizza and birthday cake he opened his presents. His favorite gift was the Magic Set – especially the “last stick of gum in the pack”.

After the other children left the grandparents, aunts and uncles stayed and visited. Pertti was our translator and kept us tuned into the conversation.

It was also Marjo’s birthday (Kalle’s was really two days ago).

What a lovely family and a great party.

6 January 2002
Sunrise/sunset 1015/1433
Hi/low 2°C/-10°  (36°F/14°F)

We were up and out the door by 1000 for a morning of ice skating with the Isotalus family from next door. The temperature was a nice -10°C, the ice was firm.

We went to an outside rink that is set up for the Oulunsalo school and available for anyone to use. Pertti, Marjo and Kalle all gave me pointers on how to ice skate and let me follow them holding onto a ice hockey stick. I started to catch on to the sitting position, bending my knees and leaning forward. Soon we were playing tag on the ice and then a game called “Who Is Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf”.

We skated for about an hour, which was perfect for my first lesson. I have to start teaching ice skating for my P.E. lessons next week. I think I’ll be ready thanks to the Isotalus family. John took pictures, but thinks he might try ice skating. (John – I just want to be able to glide over the ice – it looks so smooth and graceful.)

We came home and I started making an apple pie for John’s birthday dessert.

We were invited to the Marbach’s for a Little Epiphany celebration. They light real candles (fourteen, in all) on their Christmas tree; it is the last lighting before the tree comes down. When the last candle flickers out everyone makes a wish for the New Year. (John – After burning one Christmas tree branch in the fireplace years ago and seeing it all but explode because it burned so fast both Mary Ann and I watched the tree the entire time, expecting the worse. I was ready at the first spark to grab the closest child and head for the front door.)

We joined them for dinner and after dinner Ritchie and Katharina gave John drawings they had made for him for his birthday. We had candles on his birthday pie and sang to him. It was great to be with a wonderful family to celebrate his birthday. (John – I don’t feel a year older!)

Mary Ann

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One of the pools at the Oulu City Raksila sports complex. (OP39)

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Marjo Isotalus directs Kalle's birthday play. (2268)

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Marjo shows the cake she just baked for Kalle. (2270)

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I think he having a great time! (2278)

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Now Marjo may open her presents. (2279)

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He is ready to make some magic. (2284)

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Mary Ann contemplating her first time on skates since Yosemite in 1988. (2292)

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Pertti guiding Mary Ann on her first steps. (2294)

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Ossi blocking a puck. (2298)

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Pertti and Marjo watching Mary Ann and the children. Sorry for the mitten in the photo. (2303)

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Pertti and Ossi in an impromptu race. (2306)

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Pertti chasing Mary Ann in "Who Is Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf". (2309)

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Pertti, Marjo, Mary Ann and one of the children. (2311)

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The children and Ralf watch the tree just after the candles were lit. (2319)

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Ritchie, Katharina, Birgit, John and Mary Ann with John's birthday pie. (2324)

Last Update 2002 01 16

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