2-6 January 2002
2 January 2002
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
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
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!)