Sunday, June 29, 2014

Blog Cabin 2014, Day 4--Another Rainy Sunday

What is it with Finland and rainy Sundays?

Today started out nice--overcast and calm, but no rain.

Both kids were eager to play outside for awhile, which is good considering how rainy it was the rest of the day.  I wish I had followed their lead and spent more time outside before the rain started (we didn't know it was expected to rain).  Something I love about my kids being in Finland is that they are forced to get along and play with each other.  Spencer is such a social creature, so he latches on to anyone who will play with him.  Elsewhere he finds someone he likes to play with more than Mea, but here he spends a lot of time with her.    

  Both kids learned to swing on their own here in Finland, so it's fun to see them swinging on the same swings as they did then:
For a late breakfast, Pappa treated us to another Finnish pancake feast in the grilli:
 The Soviet gargoyle bat clock is still ticking away in the grilli, even after all these years:
And then around noon the rain started.  It was one of those days where it just rained, drizzled, and poured all day.  No breaks until around 9 pm.  We took advantage of the break and hiked around part of the island.  But now it's raining again.

One advantage of being stuck in the cabin all day--Mummi got bored and made cinnamon rolls.
Disadvantage (one of many!)--no sunset!

Blog Cabin 2014, Day 3

Day 3 started with another morning kayak ride.  In years past I was intent on trying to beat my brothers and dad with who can kayak around the island the fastest.  This year I've decided to just enjoy it.  So I've gone exploring around some of the islands, instead of following my normal path.  It's much more peaceful this way.  Less pressure.  And while I was kayaking, all alone in the middle of this giant lake, I actually started humming.  And I didn't care at all that I was humming off-tune.  Because who was there to hear me??  No one! It was a great thought. 

Chicago is so crowded and congested--I can't go anywhere and feel alone.  Even swimming at my gym, when I go at night and the pool is empty, there are still security cameras on and someone is watching. There's no where I can go without the possibility of someone watching me.  It creeps me out the more I think about it.  Maybe that's another reason I love Finland so much.  The seclusion.  

My aunt and uncle have a cabin on a neighboring island.  They live in the Lappeenranta, the city about 40 minutes away.  But they come to their cabin a lot.  But even my aunt says she can't come alone and stay because it's too lonely.  Maybe I would find being at the cabin to be lonely if I were it her situation.  Maybe I wouldn't.  I don't know.  But I do know that I appreciate the loneliness and solitude of my morning kayak rides.  

Anyway, remember the playhouse that I was building two years ago?  I was desperately trying to finish it before I left, but didn't quite have enough time.  It's been sitting here, weathering, waiting for my return:  
 I finally decided to take inventory of it today and decide what I need to do next.  Door, windows, railing, roof, paint.  And finishing the interior.  A lot of work still.  I started to saw away some of the siding that is overlapping the window opening, but quickly remembered why I had put off that task.  It needs to be done, though.  But maybe I'll work on something else, first...

My parents are at a standstill on the porch.  They realized that the steps aren't quite level, so they spent the day quibbling over a few milimeters, trying to decide on a plan:
 The kids are just having a blast on the grassy area near the lake.  Mea likes to sit on the rocks and play in the water:
 And Spencer likes to get people to play sports with him.  Badminton is a favorite:
 Davin spends quite a bit of outside time in his backpack on my back.  It's easier that way than having him trying to get in the water:
 We had 3 separate storms roll in and out today.  Some had thunder.  But the day ended peacefully.  After sauna, of course.

Sunset, day 3:

Blog Cabin 2014, Day 2--What's Crazier?

So the question of the day:  What's crazier??  Getting up at 4 AM and rollerblading 20 miles or more with a hockey stick in hand to ward off animals (and sometimes people!)?  Or swimming a couple hundred yards 5-6 times a day in 15 C air temps and 16 C water temps with a shorty wetsuit?  

My dad posed that question to me last night.  What's your opinion?? (Yes, he is the rollerblader).

Anyway, day 2 of our trip is always when the jet lag hits.  Both kids slept in late.  Spencer slept over 12 hours.  I think that's a record for him.  And he wasn't very happy with us when he found out that he had slept in until after 11 AM.  He's an early riser, that one.  

The excitement about being in Finland continued.  Both kids wanted to go fishing.  Pappa had Spencer practice from the shore:
Mea has always been too young to fish alone in the past.  And it's been two years, so Pappa gave her a fishing lesson and she picked it up immediately:
Then he took them out in the boat, but no fish today.

I was able to start my day with a kayak trip.  More on that another day.

Davin was set on getting in the lake.  He was mad whenever we steered him away from the water.  So we finally gave in and let him get wet.  16 C water?  He didn't seem to mind:

The sandbox that I built years ago (6 years, maybe?) that has been kind of neglected by my other kids is finally getting some good use:
And since Davin liked the water so much, I decided to try taking him in the sauna so he could enjoy the water more:
Spencer has decided that he's old enough now to kayak, but Pappa has decided that he needs lessons first.  So during sauna time, while cooling off, he gets to sit in the kayak and paddle back and forth in the little bay where we swim:
And here's the sunset for day 2:

Blog Cabin 2014--Day 1

Finland greeted us with sunny skies and almost warm weather (13 C).  After our red-eye flight with almost no sleep (the kids are getting too big to fall asleep comfortably in airplane chairs), and our 3 hour drive to the cabin, the kids were all rearing to go.  They were so excited to revisit everything.  And Davin was just excited to be able to get down and move.  
 Remember the old deck that I was tearing apart?  And remember how 2 years ago the big project was to make a deck?  Well, two years later this is what it looks like:
 The kids demanded Finnish pancakes for ...whatever meal it was supposed to be.  I think we ate them around 3 PM Finland time.  But with skipping ahead 8 hours and missing sleep and meals, eating pancakes at 3 PM seemed perfectly normal:
 We all took a short nap after the pancake feast.  All except Spencer.  He talked Pappa into taking him fishing, where he caught a small pike.

Then came sauna time:
 Today was the warmest day my parents had experienced this trip, but it was still only 13 degrees, and they've been here two weeks.  So needless to say, the water was cold!  15.5 C (less than 60 F).  Everyone just took a quick dip in the water before heading back into the sauna.  But thanks to my shorty wetsuit, I was able to swim out a couple hundred yards.  Not as far as I normally like, but I'll take what I can get.  And my arms and legs were ice cold and bright red, but at least the wetsuit made it so I didn't have to hyperventilate trying to breathe while swimming.

 And no day in Finland is complete without a sunset.  Here's day 1 sunset:

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Blog Cabin 2014 Preview

Guess where we're headed tomorrow!

I can't wait.  I desperately need a break.  It's been crazy around here. 

 Since the start of June I have had eleven Etsy sales.  Yes, 11.  12 if you count the Elsa dress that a local friend commissioned me to make for her daughter.  And I was out of town for the first week of June, so those orders have been made just in the last two weeks.  

 Evan was out of town for 5 days last week.  

And today Waimea came down with strep throat.  

Tomorrow may turn out to be more than I'm anticipating:  an 8 hour red-eye flight followed by a 3 hour drive to the cabin.  I'm traveling alone with 3 kids, one in my lap, and one sick (but with antibiotics).  

But I will have a month in Finland.

A month of these:

Evan will be coming for 10 days in July (his first time there in about 6 years!).  

My parents are already there, with Andrea.  Jeremy and Erik are also coming in July.  Jokke and Sonja may come, if Sonja's papers come through in time.  

I can't wait...

Here's to hoping I get through tomorrow without too many mishaps.  Wish me luck!

And check back for more blog cabin posts.  I may not post every day like I have in years past, but we'll see...

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Camping in Michigan's Upper Peninsula

7 people 
6 days
5 nights
4 annoying college students scared away by fussy Davin
3 states
2 campgrounds
1 tent
0 showers

Yes, you read that correctly.  6 days, no showers.  Mummi and Erik washed their hair, but I didn't even bother washing my face.  

7 people--Mummi, Pappa, Erik, Andrea, Waimea, Davin, and myself.  (Spencer didn't want to miss the last week of school and cub scout camp, and Evan had to prepare for a presentation that he's giving in a few weeks, so they stayed behind).  We drove through Wisconsin and spent the first two nights near Marion Lake in Michigan. We ran into some difficulties:  as we got out of the car, we were attacked by swarms and swarms of mosquitos.  Thousands of them.  As we set up camp, Erik realized that he had forgotten to bring the poles to his tent, which was where he and Andrea were going to sleep.  I brought my "8" man tent, but it took some finagling to get us all to fit in.  Then overnight it began to rain and continued to rain all morning.  Bad start to a week of camping!

Despite the rain we spent the day at the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness area.  We went on a few hikes, bribing Davin with graham crackers:

 A Lake in the Clouds:

 The waterfall where we got caught in a thunderstorm:
 We packed up the next morning to move on.  I neglected to take a picture of camp, but here's the site we stayed at:
 Our next destination was Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. We camped right on Lake Superior and were fortunate to have sunsets for the next 3 nights:
 We spent our days hiking:
 And seeing lots of waterfalls:

 And here are the famed Pictured Rocks, best seen from a commercial tourist boat (which we didn't do):
 More hikes:
 Lake Superior:

 Mea had fun throwing rocks:

 "Follow the duck":
 The Au Sable lighthouse located there:
 View from the catwalk:
 Those white chunks out in the water are chunks of ice:
 Mea was super excited about being at the top:
We all had a blast, but were glad to get home to showers and mosquito-free days and nights.