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Nina Äikäs by Nina Äikäs - 2w ago

I haven’t been blogging very much lately, but I do feel like I need to write something about Maya at 1,5 years of age. Well I don’t need to but I want to so that I can go back and read it later on – and compare to Lana’s 18-month update.

Anyway, I’m just going to write whatever springs to mind, so there won’t be a structure to this. Maya still has tantrums but not as frequently as she used to, and all in all she is easier to deal with and in a good mood most of the time. I really enjoy hanging out with her! But she still has a very strong will and knows exactly what she wants – and if she doesn’t get it she will be very upset. Typical toddler behaviour I guess! She also makes sure she gets the same things Lana has and we’ve gotten to the point where we have to buy them both the same foods/things in order to prevent a Maya meltdown.

Sleeping is better than it was but there are still less bad and bad nights. Last night, for example, she kept standing up in her bed trying to climb out for almost two hours. But not long ago she slept through the whole night. To be honest though that rarely happens. Usually she’ll wake me up a few times per night (3-5), but luckily I just have to give her the dummy and tuck her in for her to go down again. Speaking of the dummy (or “tuttu” as Maya calls it), I think she’s getting addicted to it…Before she would only have it at night, but lately she wants it during the day and more and more when we go out too. Not sure why this is happening all of a sudden, but I don’t think it’s good for her teeth etc. to keep sucking on the dummy all day…

At the beginning of September Maya is set to start nursery and although I feel we’re both ready (referring to Maya and myself) to some extent I still dread it a little bit and just hope I’ll be ok with it when the time comes. I’m sure she’ll have a blast playing with all the other kids as she is very outgoing and is always making contact with other people. But still I prefer not to think about it…

I still breastfeed Maya in the morning, before her nap and before bed and she loves these moments so much that I don’t know how I’ll ever be able to stop! But I will, probably when she starts nursery and becomes a big girl.

Maya eats fairly well but can get quite picky too. She’ll try most things but I struggle to get her to eat her veggies for example. She seems to like more flavourful foods than Lana – but unsuprisingly plain pasta is her favourite too. Oh and sausages – she loves those little skinless sausages we call “nakki” here! As a vegetarian I don’t like buying them, but sometimes I can’t deal with her tantrum in the shop or just want to give her something I know she’ll eat. She likes avocado and most fruits. And pizza and pasta bakes. And omelettes. As a sweet treat she won’t say no to raisins or dried apricots – but ice cream is probably her favourite.

Maya is constantly babbling and speaking quite a few words by now. She started saying “ice cream” recently and OMG it’s the funniest thing I’ve ever heard – will try to film it and share it on my insta stories! She has started saying two-word sentences, such as “look mamma” or “shoes there” and she says a few words in English but most of her words are in Swedish – which makes sense as she’s at home with me still. Something she always says in Finnish for some reason is ‘kiitos’ – thank you. She is very polite and says kiitos a lot, for example when you open the door for her or hand her some food. So so cute.

On her 1,5year check-up she was 81 cm and weighed just under 11 kg. It wasn’t the easiest thing for the doctor to do the check-up as she was very busy examining the room and trying to climb up on everything she could. Yup, her climbing hobby is still going strong and she climbs on literally everything. In the play park she’s climbing up on the big kids’ climbing frames and at home she’ll push the chairs to reach things she wants to have. Just like Lana she can be very independent and will go and get an apple or bread from the kitchen when she’s hungry. Both girls actually have an apple addiction and the apples I buy always seem to be gone within two hours.

Another hobby Maya has started within the last two months is switching on the stove and the oven. I am now checking it aaaall the time, especially just before we leave the flat. Not the nicest past time!

Maya is a very dedicated mother to her dolls and plush toys and always demands that we bring one, two or three toys out with us. She loves putting them to bed and saying “schhh”, feeding them, giving them her dummy and pushing them in the buggy. I love watching her cause it’s the cutest thing I know at the moment! She is obsessed with babies too and yells “baby” whenever we see a pram in the street haha.

Even though Maya is also a very mobile and energetic child she’s always been quite good at sitting in the buggy – until a month or so ago. Now she wants out all the time and will wriggle her way out in 10 seconds and then just slide down. So this is a whole new challenge as running any errands or doing the grocery shop has now become about 100% more stressful. Think I will have to start doing the weekly grocery shop online…

Maya’s hair is getting curlier every day and is now a chestnutty brown colour. I love her brown eyes which she’s always getting compliments for here – maybe not as common as blue eyes here in Finland.

Maya is just so funny and so full of life. She is a little charmer and she loves to give us all hugs. She is so excited whenever she sees an ant, a bee, a dog, a cat, a car, a ball etc. You get the drill. Seeing the world through her eyes is just a magical thing and makes me appreciate the small things even more – things that are big to her. I am so grateful for having a healthy little smiling toddler. I’m so grateful for having Maya in my life!

She “is the best” as Lana would say.

x Nina x

The post Maya 18 Months appeared first on Nina Äikäs.

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It’s been one of those pretty tiring weeks so I thought I’d come here and complain a little to you guys haha. I’m also on a one-month “sugar detox”, which might make me a bit cranky too…But I actually just came back from an energising run, finally washed my hair and I have a fresh batch of home made granola in the oven, so life is winning again!

Maya is clearly teething – I can see at least one tooth about to come through and she’s constantly walking around with her fingers in her mouth, which she doesn’t normally do. Either way she’s been very cranky all week, not wanting to play or let me get anything done around the house. Every mum (maybe dad as well) knows how tiring it is when you have a little unsettled person following you around all day, having tantrum after tantrum for reasons you can only guess.

She’s also out of sync with her normal sleep routine having discovered a whole new freedom after realising she can climb out of her cot all on her own. (I know this sentence is way too long and complicated and probably not even correct, but I hope you understand what I mean haha!). Since that day she’s been difficult to put down at night as she keeps climbing out (she’s been so easy so far, damn!). She sleeps quite well once I’ve spent an hour getting her to bed, but then around 6am she’ll climb into my bed and crawl over my head when doing so. Most of the time I’ve been able to get her back to bed, but only for her to wake up at 7am – and whilst I know it’s nothing compared to how early most kids get up it’s too early for us. Especially when we’re so bad at going to bed before midnight!

Matthew’s been away both Monday and Wednesday night, so I’ve been alone with the Mayaster and the Lanaster. Last night he was invited to the Finnish Sauna Society on Lauttasaari by his colleague and he actually went into the ice cold sea twice! And had a sauna so hot he almost burned his bum. A traditional smoke sauna as well. Very proud! (Think he might be more Finnish than me now.)

Oh and earlier today Maya fell and hit the corner of her eye on a toy box. First I thought she was fine, but then I saw that her eyelid was bleeding and realised there was a one centimetre long open wound right at the corner of her eye. So I hurried to our health station before it closed to have someone look at it. By the time a nurse had looked at her eye there was so much swelling that the wound had swollen shut. The nurse tried to put some plaster to keep it that way but Maya wanted none of it so we just left it bare, hoping it’ll stay shut. We were lucky that it was such a neat wound! Then we hurried to get Lana from nursery, who as per usual refused to leave.

As I mentioned I’ve decided not to eat any sweets, chocolate, cake, ice cream etc. for a month at least. I just reached a point where I was craving sugar more and more and felt that it was getting a bit out of hand. From Monday to Thursday I’m usually quite good and don’t have anything sweet, but when Friday comes I feel like I deserve a reward (obviously in the form of chocolate) – and before I know it it’s Sunday evening and I’ve had loads of sweet stuff again. And when I say loads I mean loads – you can ask Matthew. I want to “detox” for a while so that I can break this vicious cycle and more easily introduce just ONE cheat day, not three (or more!). It’s been almost two weeks now and it’s actually been fine, not as hard as I thought it would be. Will probably just keep going until Easter and then eat all the chocolate eggs I can find and feel sick afterwards.

This has nothing to do with trying to lose weight or anything like that – I know I don’t need to lose any weight. But my skin has gotten worse and I’m getting spots again, so I hope less sugar will help with that. Most of all I just want to eat less crap and be healthier!

I’ve dusted off my Singer and started sewing again. So far I’ve made a few bloomers and now thinking about making the girls some dresses for the wedding we’re attending in Lithuania in May…If I can find nice fabric! I’ve also been knotting and knitting and just feel like there’s nowhere near enough time for all the ideas in my head I want to turn into reality. I really enjoy working with my hands and creating something, but sometimes I also feel it stresses me out a little bit when there isn’t time to be as productive as I would like to. And it’s not like it’s my job and I need to get anything done by a deadline! Then I also have the blog, which has had to make way for other things lately, as well as my instagram and the collaborations I’m doing over there. And I need to start training for the trail running competitions coming up. So there’s definitely not much spare time at the moment!

Ok, how about I try and go to bed before midnight…Have a great weekend all you lovely people!

x Nina x

The post Cranky Toddler, Sugar Detox & DIY Mania appeared first on Nina Äikäs.

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Nina Äikäs by Nina Äikäs - 3M ago

For ages I’ve been thinking about getting the girls one of those wooden curved boards that kids (and adults) can work on their balance on and get rid of some of that excess energy, but just haven’t gotten around to actually buying one. So when Csilla from SaltyFun got in touch asking if I’d like to try out a Creatimber board she recently started selling in her web shop I didn’t hesitate to say yes.

Before long the board moved in with us and the girls were instantly all over it. They use it as a slide, a bridge, a seesaw, a bed, a tunnel etc. The beauty of balance boards is, in my opinion, the simplicity. How can a modest curved piece of wood be so attractive to children and be used in so many different ways?! I quickly discovered it is a lovely place to rock back and forth lying on my back on – with a cushion underneath my head. Lana even asked if she could sleep on it haha.

So what does the board actually do, apart from bringing out the creativity in children? It improves children’s body awareness, spatial awareness, balance and coordination skills as well as builds self confidence and encourages them to move. The Creatimber is also eco-friendly and handmade – plus it looks nice and blends in with the decor!

There is actually a lovely story behind the Creatimber boards. It is a Hungarian husband and wife team living on the countryside just outside Budapest who created the board. They wanted to stay away from noisy plastic toys and actually made a lot of toys for their children themselves. Their children attended a Steiner kindergarten where balance boards have been used for a long time, and failing to find a European store or manufacturer selling them they decided to make one in their own workshop at home. This was 2011.

The board became popular among their friends and soon they had so many production requests that they started thinking about starting a balance board business. Things went well, and since 2013 Creatimber has been present in many European countries. With the growing success it could have been tempting to switch to large-scale factory production, but that would’ve been against the Creatimber values and it wouldn’t have been possible to maintain a personal relationship with ever board that is made.

I have to mention here though that the board isn’t suitable for children under three – unless supervised by an adult. So for Maya the board is just a little slide or bridge she can walk or crawl over. Which she loves doing! Lana can stand and balance on the board, but she needs practise still. The board isn’t heavy for an adult (it weighs 3 kg), but for a four-year-old it can be, so I would advise parents to not let their small children try and lift the board as it can fall on their toes (exactly what happened to Lana). You also need to be careful no toes or fingers get caught underneath the board – but the more you use it the safer it’ll be.

I enjoy watching how much fun the girls have with the board. They particularly like using it as a slide, and even though it is the tiniest slide they still love it and come up with more and more ways to come down!

If you’re thinking about getting your own Creatimber you can buy one here. There are different colour options too! Is this something you think your kids would like?

x Nina x

The post A New Toy appeared first on Nina Äikäs.

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Hi guys, it’s been a while! We basically dedicated a whole week to experiencing what it’s like when the whole family has a stomach bug and then the following week I’ve just been lacking energy to write. And then when I finally do decide to blog I discover my website has also gotten ill with a grave error. But that’s fixed now thank god!

We’ve been having a lot more sunny days and the streets here in Helsinki are snow-free – which is nice when you’re pushing a buggy. It’s lovely to feel the sun on my face again but I wouldn’t mind if there was more snow still! Lana thinks that if the sun is shining it’s warm outside and that all she needs to wear is a dress haha. I’ve tried explaining that it can be cold even though the sun is shining to her many times but she just doesn’t listen…

Maya has reached some sort of a tantrum age where she throws herself on the floor and starts crying immediately if things don’t go her way. We have these mini-tantrums probably 50 times per day at the moment…Fun times. The rest of the time she’s being really cute though and saying many new words and singing her first songs. A favourite word is “mine”, and she thinks it’s hilarious when she holds something to her chest and says “mine” and I try to take it from her. The first song we suddenly realised she was singing was the lovely “Mummy finger, mummy finger, where are you…”. Love that tune, not annoying at all. Now she also sings “Head shoulders knees and toes” and it is so adorable! She eats really well with a spoon now too, and says “kakka” every time she does a poo in her nappy. The things that make you proud as a parent of a toddler haha!

Maya still has some bad nights but overall she is sleeping a lot better and doesn’t cry and get up that much anymore – she mainly just lets out cries as if she was having a nightmare or is moving around in her bed. Often she stands up and reaches out for a new dummy on my bedside table and then continues sleeping. All in all we can conclude that putting an end to nightly feeds helped!

A few friends have recently had babies and I just can’t even look at them without my baby fever making itself known with full force. Same when I see a baby on TV or a random baby in the shop. I’ve felt this way pretty much since Maya was born and wondering if it’s all because Matthew is adamant he doesn’t want more kids?? I mean, I don’t want to be pregnant all over again and make life more complicated and busy either, but still the thought of never having a baby again feels sad and I am not yet ok with that thought. Maybe it’s all hormones, who knows?!

We visited a dry salt therapy room for kids the other week. Salty Fun claims to be the only salt room for kids in Finland and is located in Espoo, a 20-minute car journey from Helsinki. Salt is very good for you, both in a wet and dry form. Wet salt therapy is e.g. when you use a saline nasal spray or gargle with salt water when you have a sore throat. Dry salt therapy or halotherapy is even more powerful because of the absorbent characteristic of salt. When you inhale salt it acts like a sponge, which attracts and pulls out the mucous, allergens and foreign substances that get trapped in the respiratory system. Getting rid of all the bad stuff means you are less likely to get e.g. a cold. The dry salt also absorbs impurities and provides anti-bacterial properties that benefit the skin with acne, psoriasis or eczema.

There are three primary characteristics of pure NaCl, known as salt:

  1. It is very absorbent (especially when it is dry)
  2. It is anti-bacterial
  3. It is anti-inflammatory

Children’s respiratory system isn’t fully developed until the age of nine and they have a larger lung surface area in relation to their body weight than adults. This means salt therapy works even better on kids and that a weekly visit or two can really help your child stay healthy.

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Nina Äikäs by Nina Äikäs - 5M ago

I don’t know if it’s the spring that has inspired me to get my sewing machine out and come up with all sorts of little DIY projects, but I’m definitely enjoying creating things with my own little hands at the moment. I saw this easy DIY project on a colourful Finnish blog and immediately decided to try it out and share it with you, in English. Will try and keep it short and sweet, so here we go.

All you need is an old t-shirt (or similar) and a pair of scissors. The t-shirt I used was a men’s size S, which was a bit too small. Ideally, you’d use a men’s L or XL t-shirt, which means you could maybe even cut the strips vertically.

Then cut 6 x 6 cm/2,5″ pieces as in the picture. My strips were around 60 cm long, which was a bit tight around my head – so I gave the hairband to Lana instead!

Stretch the strips to make them curl up and turn into thick “string”.

Divide the strips into two sets of 3 pieces and do exactly as in the 4 photos below. Pay attention to which strips go under and which ones go over.

Then just start tugging the four ends until you end up with a number eight-shaped knot.

Tie double knots, binding all the strips together. Try to match the upper strips with the lower ones and so on.

Cut out a 7 cm/3″ wide piece of fabric that needs to be long enough for tying 3 knots with. Tie this piece of fabric around the small knots so that they’ll be entirely hidden. Then tie 3 knots with the new fabric, cut off the leftover strips and hide the ends inside the little “bun”. (Leave a couple of cm so that it’ll be easier to hide the ends.)

Voila! This is what you end up with. Not bad for the amount of time and effort needed, don’t you think? Will definitely do another one in another colour soon – just need Matthew to donate one of his t-shirts…

If something is unclear, just ask and I’ll try and explain it better!

x Nina x

PS. This is a blog post I first shared in 2014 and recently re-discovered. The photos were horrendous though, so I took some new ones and thought I’ll just share it again!

The post DIY Knot Hairband appeared first on Nina Äikäs.

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Nina Äikäs by Nina Äikäs - 6M ago

Hello from a pretty damn snowy Helsinki! If you follow me on instagram you’ll know how happy I’ve been over the wintry winter we’re having here in Finland. After 7 years in the UK I am just appreciating it so much. I feel like I kid!

I’ve been over the moon with being able to go skiing, sledging, skating and just running in the snow – but today I have to admit I got a little bit annoyed. It’s been snowing non stop for three days now, and even though I admire the snowplow people for their efficiency they’re no miracle workers. But still buses, trams and the metro are somehow running, people are getting to work and kids to school/nursery. Life goes on as normal.

So going out with a buggy was a pretty good workout today. I was dragging, pulling, pushing and lifting – and going to the yarn shop, the supermarket and the post office took me twice as long as it normally does. But it was quite interesting too (God, I sound like a tourist that has never experienced snow before) as I saw cars being stuck in the snow, people trying to dig out their cars, I witnessed an accident where one car drove into another one, I saw kids snowboarding, parents pulling their kids in sledges, runners, people skating – just what a winter should be like if you ask me!

I also went running last night in the snow blizzard and I felt like a tough mudder. Running in snow is way harder I can tell you! And so good for the balance. I felt like I was using the same small muscles in my feet and legs that I do when I go trail running. I’m planning on doing several 20K trail running competitions next year so I’m glad I can practise in the snow!

Lana is loving the snow and will climb every big pile of snow on the way home from nursery. She also refuses to leave the park as she’s having so much fun playing in (and eating) the snow with her friends. So our nursery run which should take 20 minutes will take around an hour. She loved skating too and actually managed to skate a bit on her own the first time we took her. So proud! I think Matthew is enjoying the snow too, how it makes the winter so much brighter, how he can just pull Lana to nursery in a sledge and all the winter sports – apart from cross country skiing. He didn’t like that. But I guess all this snow is quite exotic for someone coming from the UK!

Anyway, enough about snow haha! I will probably regret writing this, but Maya is finally sleeping a bit better. I completely stopped breastfeeding her at night a few weeks ago, and since then things have clearly been better. There have been nights where she’s only woken up once and nights where she’s woken up maybe 5 times – so we’re somewhere in between most nights. Feels like nothing compared to getting up every hour! There’s also a completely different vibe in our home now; a lot less snapping, stupid arguments and just general tiredness. It’s funny to, in hindsight, see how much not sleeping well affects the dynamics of the whole family. Please Maya, let’s keep going in this direction!

Lana will turn four next week. Matthew is taking her to see Disney on ice on her birthday and then we’re having a birthday party just for the family. I wanted to throw her a party for her nursery friends too – but they’re so many and you have to invite everyone. And at the moment we don’t have room here at home, and booking something just felt so overwhelming and expensive. Next year when we will hopefully be living in a bigger place she will get a proper kids’ birthday party!

In May we’re attending a wedding in Lithuania and we’re thinking about just driving down and stopping on the way, maybe in Tallinn, Pärnu and Riga. It’s just something we would have to plan really well for it to be enjoyable and not super stressful…If anyone knows any good places along the way or has any tips, let me know!

Ok need to get knitting! The photos are from our visit to the beautiful Winter Garden in Helsinki. The place was full of instagrammers doing photo shoots, some taking around a million photos in the same spot. Quite funny to watch – but annoying when you want to take a photo yourself haha! (I didn’t mind that much when Lana and Maya photobombed several of them…)

x Nina x

The post Snowed In appeared first on Nina Äikäs.

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