Life Lately :: March 2016


Oh March, you've been something. While we're only three-fourths of the way through, it's been a bit of a roller coaster month. The past few months have been their own sort of hard. As always, there's things to be grateful for. For starters,  I'm grateful the sun is shining and there are promises of warmer days in the few weeks ahead!

We get the pleasure of heading out to Portugal to visit dear friends this Easter week. Our friends Jordan and Aubrey are about to do excellent work in São Tomé, and we're thrilled to be able to visit them while they're learning the language in Lisbon.

We've had several hard weeks of going back and forth with sickness. Brutal sickness, really. So grateful to be on the mend. Everyone is healthy again this weekend. We're all very happy about that.

The spring cleaning itch is here, meaning I'm purging all sorts of things. The whole process has calmed my heart about when we move back to the states.We haven't been here long and have managed to fill our home over the past two years. The fact that we'll, in a lot of ways, start allover again is, while a bit exhausting to think through, not so terrible. It's all just stuff, really. God is good at finding new people that need it. It can bless.

I think every one here is quite ready to see the flowers outside again. We had that confusing warm couple of days last week, and it's back to the chilly temps. In the meantime, we keep filling our homes with blooms. While I'm a bit sad to be missing Easter here, the lead up is sweet. Easter is a bit like halloween. Little girls dress up as witches and come to houses asking for candy and in exchange will bless your home on the Sunday before Easter. They carry around willow branches tied with feathers to 'scare away evil spirits.'

 “This Finnish children’s custom interestingly mixes two older traditions – a Russian Orthodox ritual where birch twigs originally represented the palms laid down when Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday; and a Swedish and Western Finnish tradition in which children made fun of earlier fears that evil witches could be about on Easter Saturday,”  (if you want to know more, click here)

They have a whole set of incredible traditions here. It's a special time with special foods reserved just for Easter. While we haven't seen it due to babies needing sleep, they have an awesome good friday ceremony at senate square at sundown. Living in a country that has a 'state church' has some interesting cultural aspects-like these wide shared celebrations.

In the in between we're just living life. Laundry piles and catching up from being sick for a full week. Basically, nothing too exciting to share. The kids are awesome and wildly hard. Elias is getting downright hilarious, and he's also getting all sorts of capable for trouble. Eowyn is figuring out what she can say to get what she wants and what she can't. This results in a lot of hard conversations. Typical three-year old shenanigans. We discipline on three broad categories: disrespect, disobedience and dishonesty. Not a brittany-original, I read it somewhere and it has jives well with our parenting style. This has been good for my heart because of its consistent nature. When she just gets into stuff while I'm making dinner and makes a huge mess, she just helps me clean it up. There isn't any sort of discipline to be had, even if my feelings would want that. It just communicates what we really want and keeps my A-type heart from making much of nothing. Our kids get to be kids. The repeated phrases we say to her make sense to her. She has them in a mantra now.

The cool part of it all is how it translates to her friends too. I'm seeing her catch herself on occasion after we've talked through how pushing/hitting/snatching toys is disrespectful to friends, even if we haven't deliberately told her she can't. Basically we just repeat ourselves a lot. But, she's catching on. Praise! We've definitely had a few days/weeks/months of me holding both kids like footballs and walking back upstairs to our apartment after she decides to repeatedly throw sand at her friends who aren't listening. Then, you know, refusing to go back upstairs. The moms smile in disbelief (kids by-and-large aren't really trained by parents in Scandinavian countries. They sort that out in school. Or perhaps it just happens after the fact? I don't know. Most non-Finns comment on the wildness of children until 5-6-7 years of age. I don't know what I think about it all, honestly. I'm too busy sorting out my own parenting to be reflective on anyone else's.) Regardless, her three year old self is catching on. Hopefully Elias will absorb it all through some sort of osmosis. My bets are on getting to have an even greater excersize of patience with that one. Parenting has been a wild adventure for me while living in a different country. But, I think we're at peace with how we're doing it.

As our Pastor back state-side would say, we hope to parent them well enough that they'll need just a little bit of counseling. They both will readily admit they're raised by two parents who need a whole lot of Jesus.

It's a good sort of work, even if it's a tiring one.As we often tell each other, these are the glory days. We know that we'll look back at all this fondly, even if it is thick in-the-trenches work.

Spring is coming! (It snowed the past two days here, so not coming swiftly) but I'm definitely in excitement as it comes. And with it brings summer, which really is fantastic here in Finland. We'll get to come back to visit the states and celebrate my sweet friend getting married. 2016 is shaping up to be filled with sweet friends and celebrating big life changes.

Have a happy Easter Friends!

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