Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Blog Cabin 2012, Day 27--The Long Travel Home

Here's what I've decided for the future:
1.  It's worth the extra money to have a non-stop flight to Finland.  After driving 3 hours to the airport, we had a 3 hour flight to London, a 3 hour layover, then a 9 hour flight to Chicago.  It turned into 10 when we sat on the plane at the gate for an hour.  But during that 3 hour layover and the subsequent hour on the plane, all I could think of was, "If we had taken a direct flight, we would be halfway home by now.  We still have 9 more hours to go.  Ugh!"  By the time we reached home we had been traveling over 22 hours straight.  My kids are troopers--they were great the whole time.  But I'll definitely get direct flights in the future

2.  Mid-July to the beginning of August is the best time to visit Finland.  June is too rainy and mosquito-y.  Yeah, July has paarmas, but they are dying out by the end of July.  Also, an essential part of the Finland experience for my kids is being able to swim in the lake, and it wasn't warm enough to do that until our trip was almost over.  Plus, we didn't get enough blueberries.  A few days of eating them just wasn't enough.

3.  Next time Evan has to come.  (How many times have I said that before?)  This time I'm sticking with it, though.  In the years past when Evan was working and only had 2-3 weeks vacation the whole year, he didn't want to waste all his vacation time in Finland and not see his own parents and siblings at all.  And then this year he couldn't go because of his prelim exams (which he passed, by the way!).  Next year or whenever we go again--no excuse.  He's coming.

Blog Cabin 2012, Day 26--Prolonging the Inevitable

 The last full day is always the hardest.  I don't want to leave, but I know I have to, so I just want to leave right away.  It's always the busiest day, too, trying to do everything one last time while still remembering to gather and pack all our stuff that has scattered.  It's also full of regrets--remembering all the things I wasn't able to do or didn't do enough of.  Here's some of what we did on the last day:
Pancakes in the grilli

lighting the sauna--Spencer was my helper most days

worked more on the playhouse; still not done, but to-be-continued for next time

We also went kayaking, innertubing, blueberry picking, played some Finnish baseball, mowed the lawn, and ate some smoked lahna and muikku for dinner.

Unfortunately, the weather was weird--sun for awhile, but then cloudy with a few rain showers.  So I didn't get my parting sunset.  (As if I don't have enough of those).

[Sigh]  Until next time, my ultimate outdoor playground.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Blog Cabin 2012, Day 25--Only a Few Days Left

 We spent our last Sunday with my aunt and uncle, Tupu and Kyössi.  My kids love going to their cabin because they get spoiled--with attention from Kyössi, and food and angry birds stuff from Tupu.  When we leave their home, my kids are beat--from laughing and jumping, and chasing, and being chased. 
What's funny to me about it all is that my kids don't speak Finnish, and Kyössi speaks limited English.  But somehow they get along great and understand each other just fine. 

Here are some shots that the kids took to remember their great uncle:


 And here he is, chasing the car, at their request:

Blog Cabin 2012, Day 24--Blueberies

 Spencer suggeseted today that we go pick blueberries.  I was a little skeptical that enough would be ripe to make it worthwhile, but I was wrong.  Blueberries were everywhere:


 We only picked for less than an hour, but already our hands were stained blue:
We had a little rain shower, and the first thing Waimea said about it was, "This will help the blueberries grow!"

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Blog Cabin 2012, Day 23

 Not much to say today.  Here's the playhouse update:
Two of the walls have siding, and I've started on the roof.  I don't have enough siding for all the walls to look alike, so each wall has it's own style of siding.  That's what you get when you try to make a playhouse out of scrap wood. 

Sunset, Day 23.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Blog Cabin 2012, Day 22--American Pickers in Finland

 There's a show on the History Channel entitled "American Pickers."  I've never seen an episode myself, but my dad has, and he raves about it.  Apparently, two men roam the country looking for antiques and junk in barns, outbuildings, sheds, attics, etc.  They'll buy just about anything that has history to it, and then turn around and sell it for profit.  They'd be in heaven here. 

Here are some of the items that I've "picked":

A pair of oil lanterns

Cross-country skis

Wood-burning oven

Radio from who-knows-when


Metal fireplace doors

An iron that you put on the stove to heat up

A true vintage alram clock from the 60's (?)--mint condition
 
A pair wagon wheels

Firefighter pail

A basket woven from birch bark

Metal candle lantern

Blueberry picker--you run this through the bushes and it picks the berries and leaves the leaves behind

Another lantern

Drill

A horn made of some sort of animal tusk.  There's a few of these on the property.

Wooden crate

Ice pick

Trolling reel (for fishing), all wooden parts

Soviet-era bat clock, still ticking

Soviet-era rubber boots, a wooden paddle, and a lifesaver

Ice drills used for fishing in the winter

Firefighter hoses

Snow shovel
 
There you have it.  I'm not usually a fan of antiques, but they give our cabin some extra charm.  So even if the American Pickers were to come here, I don't think we'd sell anything.  But they are intesting to look at and wonder about. 

And here's the sunset from a different perspective tonight:

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Blog Cabin 2012--Day 21--4th of July, Finnish Style

 The 4th of July here in Finland brought us our first Hellepäivä--"hell day,"  When temperatures reach 25 C (77 F), the Finns consider it to be a "hell day."  Understandably, too--it's crazy how hot 77 degrees can feel when you're used to such cooler temperatures. 

The Finns obviously don't celebrate the 4th of July.  They celebrate their own independence day, Itsenäisyyspäivä, on December 6th, to celebrate their independence from Russia back in 1917. 

While we're here in Finland, though, we try celebrate our independence. But without fireworks, sparklers, or parades, the best we can do is barbeque American hamburgers, eat any other American food we can find here (French fries and chips), and have a picnic out on the lawn:

We also went bob fishing with the kids.  Bob fishing is the type of fishing that most people know about--you put a worm (or in our case, a baby fish) on a hook that is attached to a long pole and throw it out in the water.  Then you watch until the bob gets submerged.  When it does, you quickly pull it out.  Unfortunately, we didn't catch any fish, and we didn't last long because of the heat.  But Waimea loved reaching in the bucket to retrieve the baby fishies to put on the hook:
 We also did sauna early today to enjoy the nice, sunny weather.  After our first round, Spencer tried to encourage us to sunbathe--where he learned what that is, I have no idea.  I certainly don't do it.  But it was funny watching him do it and trying to encourage us to do it. 
 No fireworks, but certainly a nice sunset to end the day:

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Blog Cabin 2012, Day 20--Innertube Fun

 The water temps are finally feeling warm enough to swim in.  So we filled up the innertube that Jeremy bought my dad for Christmas and gave it a test run.  Who went first?  That would be me, the water freak.  Jeremy didn't want to get wet.  What I learned--wear googles. 
Then the kids gave it a shot.  Spencer was loving it, especially when we went over wave bumps and flew in the air. 
 Waimea, not so much (despite protests of not being scared all the way up until we started moving). 
 I think she had something more like this in mind--just a gentle tug:
 Day 20 sunset.  Is it just me or are they all starting to look alike?

Blog Cabin 2012, Day 19--Kid City Park

 Lappeenranta has a great park that my kids beg to go to each year.  My dad calls it Kid City Park, but we're not sure what its official name is.  But it has mini roadways, complete with roadsigns, and cars that move my pedaling.  It's usually kind of crowded and the kids have to take turns, but today we showed up at the perfect time--it had just stopped raining and there were only a few kids there. 

 Intermixed with all the roadways are places to stop and play.  Waimea stopped often to swing (so glad she knows how to push herself now); Spencer did not stop at all. 
 They even have mini parking lots to so you can stop and play:


Speaking of cars, if you thought gas prices in the US were bad, here's what they are here:
At first glance, that doesn't seem bad, but these prices are per liter.  So multiply the above by 4 and you get roughly the equivalent.  But then you also have to convert the euro to dollar--right now the exchange rate is around 1.25.  So, basically, gas here is roughly $8 a gallon.  (Did I get the math right, Evan?) That's twice what we're paying in Chicago. 

Anyway, despite the heavy morning rain, it was a nice, warm day.  With all the warm weather the lake has been heating up nicely--now it's 20 Celsius.  Today was the first day I swam without my wetsuit.  I'm so glad I brought it, but I'm also so glad to take it off.