9-19 February 2002
9 February 2002, Saturday
Hi/low 1°C/-1°C (34°F/30°F)
Williams "Going Away" Party
We were invited to a going away party for the Williams, a British family. Merry works
for Nokia and he transferred to Oulu just over two years ago.
They will be returning home in the middle of March. I teach both of their children.
Rowan is in my Second Grade class and his sister, Hazel, joins me for my Third-Sixth Grade Ethics class.
The party was held in a building that was built in the 1930s as a Children's’ Tuberculosis
Sanitarium. Then, at four miles, it was considered quite a ways out of town; now it is inside
the city limits. The building has continued to be used for children and now offers art and
music classes. Groups may make reservations to use the building free of charge, when
children are involved. It was a pot-luck affair, so we had some wonderful dishes including
braised moose with mashed potatoes; very Finnish, excellent and not gamey at all.
Because I teach many of the children who were at the party I had been asked to
teach the Mexican Hat Dance to the parents as part of the entertainment. I guess many
of the children had gone home and tried dancing with their parents even though they did not
have the music. This gave the parents a chance to dance with their children, and show
what they had learned, with music. It was fun to watch as the parents danced with their
children. Lots of good conversation and fun was had by all.
10 February 2002, Sunday
Hi/low 2°C/0°C (36°F/32°F)
Isotalus Family for Dinner
We invited the Isotalus family over for dinner. They had debated what “the Americans”
might serve and decided it would be a “T-Bone steak”! I shared we would have that when they
come to visit us in California, and that we were having a family recipe that my mother often served
for dinner – homemade chicken pot pie. The children, Kalle and Ossi, did very well.
I told them they didn’t have to eat the vegetables they didn’t like – and just a few peas
were left behind.
We shared pictures of our family and talked about joining them for some
cross-country skiing and snowmobiling over the Ski Week (March 4th-8th). We decided,
if I was home from
school by 1430 I could observe Marjo’s Kindergarten. I have been wanting to observe Marjo’s
, which is only two blocks from our house. She teaches
twenty-one children ages 2 through 6 years.
John - Earlier in the day I snapped a picture from the dining room of two
neighbor children using the snow piled on our front yard (I was about to
say lawn but have not seen it for a while) by the snow plow as a practice
hill. They had their cross-country skis and poles and spent about forty-five
minutes side-stepping up all two feet of the snow and then skiing down.
Winter here is just another season with different activities. Summer time
is shorts and a T-shirt and winter time is a snow suit. "Go play outside"
is a year-round saying here.
12 February 2002, Tuesday
Hi/low -1.8°C/-5.7°C (28.8°F/21.7°F)
School field trip to Auranmaja
We had a field trip for cross-country skiing at Auranmaja, about a twenty-minute ride
from school. Two city buses picked up 120 of us at 0830 along with skis and poles.
The school provided bag lunches and sausages to be cooked in the fire hut. The students
were allowed to bring a small amount of money to buy a warm drink or something at the café.
Most bought candy; they love their sweets!
When we were assembled at the ski area everyone put on their equipment. The fourth,
fifth and sixth graders took off for a five-kilometer trek through the forest with Pirjo and
Paula. Kate and I were in charge of the figure eight practice and weaving through the
cones for the first, second and third graders.
Heikki and Raimo took one-half of the younger children to practice on a
After lunch we traded activities. The older children did the downhill practice
and relays, while the second graders skied three kilometers with Outi. The first graders
did two kilometers with Kate and I. Kate and I weren’t on skis – she led and I brought
up the rear. We had some children who had never been on skis, so they were moving
slowly. I do want to learn how to cross-country, but decided this was not the time.
It is beautiful to watch those who use the skating technique on skis, but I will be happy
if I can learn the traditional parallel technique.
John was busy taking pictures, building the fire and cooking the lunch sausages.
We loaded the buses at 1210 and were back at school at 1230. It had been
perfect weather for our skiing trip, about -6°C (21°F). The children were dismissed
and the teachers met for their weekly meeting. After going with my children for the
two-kilometer trek through the forest, I could see how peaceful and refreshing skiing can
be. One of my goals is to come back with a real ability to cross-country ski and ice
skate. We will see!
14 February 2002, Thursday
Hi/low -3.7°C/11.6°C (25.3°F/11.1°F)
John - During the morning periods all of the students, teachers and assistants
walked over to Myllytulli
School for a concert. The audience was asked if any Americans were there.
Mary Ann and I kept quiet. Some of the songs included the "secret hockey
play" the Finns use! Of course, the song was in Finnish so I am still in
the dark about the "secret hockey play".
(Good Friend's Day)
This day in Finland is not as commercialized as in the States.
There had been no mention of Valentine’s Day parties at school, so I decided
that my class would have a quiet party during our last period. I had sent
a note home at the beginning of the week with a packet of materials for the
children to make their own Valentines the old-fashioned way with paper and
a doily to use for trim, since pre-packaged Valentines
The children were very excited about passing out their valentines and
didn’t expect anything else. When I started passing out homemade decorated
Valentine cookies, juice and candy they said “Wow, this is a food party too!”
It is so refreshing, when something is a treat, and not expected.
When we got home, we took a plate of Valentine cookies over to the
Isotalus family and they had made a lovely Friendship card for us.
Many unexpected warm wishes were received this wonderful Good Friend's
Day, along with a lovely bouquet of yellow and orange tulips from my fabulous husband.
John - I went with Pertti when he took Kalle and Ossi to ice hockey
practice Thursday evening. The children are fun to watch and some of them
are very serious about the game. Besides a game to teach the rules they
have basic practice like running starts and pushing a puck around cones.
The children don't rest during a break. They'll start scrambling among
themselves if there are four of them "on break".
15 February 2002, Friday
Hi/low 3.3°C/-3.7°C (37.9°F/25.3°F)
Our school had been asked to host a UNICEF
Celebration by the City of Oulu on Friday evening. It was a fund-raising
event to help our city raise a targeted amount of money for the street children of
St. Petersburg and the people of
Chad. Our school and the
Parent Association really took our role seriously. We were to decorate the gym,
corridors and to start the evening’s entertainment. The theme was Friendship
Around the World. Some of the many Arts and Craft projects done by the children
were: Friendship Quilts, paper maché globes, Friendship wreaths, life-size
drawings of children holding hands, kites with flags from around the world, posters
and banners with the meaning of friendship, a chain of hands and poems or sayings
As part of our folk dance unit for P.E., I had taught the Mexican Hat Dance
to all the first and second graders. So we decided to have them perform that
evening. Paula taught the students the song “The Children Of the World”.
The children marched in waving flags to the song and then the first and second graders
danced. Next the third and fourth graders played the didgeridoo, an Australian
aboriginal wind instrument they had made, and sang “Kookaberra”. Our last act
was the school singing the United Nations Anthem, “Let There Be Peace”.
It was a great beginning for the evening’s entertainment. Next there
were many different ethnic groups from Oulu that performed. We had Thai dancers,
Israeli dancers, a Tai Chi demonstration, a young Finnish singer, an African rhythm group,
Iranian Dancers and a Turkish mandolin player.
The children were asked if they would like to dance, while the young Finnish
pop singer performed and also during the African rhythm group’s performance.
Many of them got up and it was fun to watch them enjoying themselves.
During the intermission the University Band played in the lobby, while an
accordion player entertained guests in the lunch room where they were enjoying their
coffee and cake.
There were around three hundred people that came to the event. I was
disappointed by the lack of appearance of any city officials. The city had asked
our school to prepare for and host the event. Some parents worked the entire
week before the event and the staff and students for two weeks preparing decorations,
learning dances and songs.
16 February 2002, Saturday
Hi/low 6.0°C/0.5°C (42.8°F/32.9°F)
After such a busy week it was great to sleep in and read on both Saturday
and Sunday. I don’t have a problem convincing John to do this.
Saturday evening we joined Merry and Bev Williams, who are returning to
England, for a gracious dinner and wonderful conversation at the Thompson's.
John - Craig and Pirjo Thompson gave their children a Yellow Labrador puppy
for Christmas. Of course she has grown during the last six weeks. I am
always surprised by the growth of puppies and kittens. Maggie is pretty mellow
and was very relaxed, even with five children about. She doesn't think of
herself as a lap dog, but loves to lay her head on your lap so you can pet her.
17 February 2002, Sunday
Hi/low 6.0°C/0.4°C (42.8°F/32.7°F)
John - Today was a catch-up day. Catch-up on the newsletter, catch-up
on the photos, etc.
We took a walk this afternoon. It was very icy. Although it is
above freezing, the water from the snow melts, collects on the roads and walk ways
and freezes again. The result is very slick. We wore our slip-over studs
and still slid sometimes. Spring won’t be fun for the few weeks, while the
pathways and roads lose all of their ice. Now the roads and paths have about
an inch-thick ice coating. In colder weather it is not a problem because
there is some snow on top that provides traction. Right now I can see the
front walk brick under the clear ice! The forecast is for -20°C (-4°F) by Wednesday
so I best remember to keep the Volvo's engine heater plugged in!
18 February 2002, Tuesday
Hi/low 1.3°C/-4.5°C (34.e°F/23.9°F)
Night Cross-country skiing
After we arrived from school, Pepe called, and asked if we wanted to
join them for cross-country skiing through the forest near the airport.
Since I was going to be teaching cross-country the next day, I decided it would
be very wise for me to have some experience before Tuesday's P.E. lesson.
John was waiting for a return telephone call from our travel agent, so he decided
to go the next time.
Pepe told me to meet at their home and we left at 1800 for a ten-minute
drive into the forest. I asked, "Are you sure about this?", because
by now it was very dark and snowing. Pepe said, "No problem, the forest
path has lights". Sure enough, the cross-country path was well lit.
Pepe reviewed snowplowing for going down the hills, making a V shape with the skis
to climb the hills and how to push with the poles and glide. Kalle and Pepe
took the lead - Marjo, Ossi and I were at the back. It wasn't long before I
was getting the hang of it and took off on my own for awhile. This is another
terrific sport that I want to learn. We skied for two hours. I must say
I was quite tired, but enjoyed every minute of it.
19 February 2002, Tuesday
Hi/low 1.1°C/-7.9°C (34.0°F/17.8°F)
John - Well, the predicted cold has arrived, finishing off the warm
streak. It snowed on and off during the day. I had to clear about
three inches of snow today from the front walk and driveway. Still ice
underneath so I left a thin layer of snow to help with traction. It
started snowing during dinner and is still at it. Cross-country skiing
and ice skating are back in fashion. I guess I still have to go and buy
some used ice skates.