Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Blog Cabin 2014, Day 32--The Long Trip Home

So long, cabin.  Until next time, whenever that may be.  Last glance as we were driving away in the boat:
 Last time watching my dad and Spencer wet down their hair with lake water in the parking lot (not a great picture here--it looks like my dad is getting mad at Spencer--I assure you, he wasn't):
 3 hour drive in the squishy car to the airport.  Next time I'm bringing less stuff and taking the train.  Who cares if we only have two pairs of clothes to alternate?

At the gate we were surprised to find this new addition:
 It's a play area for the kids.   Right at the gate.  So I didn't have to sit and listen to my kids ask 300 times in the hour we were waiting, "When are we getting on the plane?"

Davin, oh Davin, what happened to you in the last month?  The trip to Finland was hard, yes, but you at least stayed happy on my lap, even if you didn't stay still.  The trip home?  Where did your opinions and persistence come from??  You're not even 15 months old yet.  We can't be starting the terrible 2's yet!  But it seems you are!!

At least I had Erik with me this time.  And he discovered a game that, somehow, passed more time than anything else.  Davin refused to eat a cracker, so we stuffed it partially into the seat pocket in front of us to get it out of our hands.  But Davin didn't even like to see it, so he made a little squawk and shoved it further down.  Because he gave such a big reaction to something we weren't expecting, Erik reached in and put it back so that part of it was exposed.  Once again, he squawked and shoved it down.  So Erik made a game out of it, saying "Davin, where's the cracker?"  Squawk, shove down, then repeat.  I can't believe how long he played this game:
Somehow the 9 hours passed.  He only took about a 45 minute nap a few hours into the flight, and then, after hours of trying to get him to sleep for the night, he finally fell asleep for the last half hour of the flight.  What a booger.  

First impressions of being back in the US after being gone for a month?
--Where do all these people come from?  Why are there so many?
--Who came up with the new passport control set-up?  It took longer than it did before, even though it's supposed to be shorter.  Lines, lines, lines.  
--Wow, I forgot how nice indoor plumbing is.  And how soft the toilet paper is.
--Seriously--there are way too many people.  
--Why is everyone so loud?
--Where are all the trees?
--I wish I had a lake instead of street in front of my house.  Then I could swim in it instead of having to drive to a crowded pool.  And then I wouldn't have to feel like my neighbors are watching my every move.  
--I wanna go back.  

Blog Cabin 2014, Day 31--Last Full Day

Our last day in Finland is always bittersweet.  I love it and I hate it.  For many reasons.  

This particular day I hated even more for different reasons.  It was HOT.  And muggy.  And perfectly still.  Even at the beginning of the day.  

We had our Last Day Pancakes in the grilli, but I couldn't even stay in the grilli because I was too hot.  (The grilli is basically a covered, walled pavilion with a cookstove.  No windows).  Here's Davin eating his pancake (and second breakfast):
 Immediately after breakfast, Davin and Mea went for a swim:

 I kayaked around the island and came home with a bright red face.  So I swam to cool off.

Usually on the last day we like to start sauna early and just do it all day long.  But there was no way we were going in the sauna when it was that hot already outside.  So we just swam and swam and swam.

Finally I made myself get working on the roof of the playhouse.  It wasn't what I was hoping to do on my last day, but I had to.  About halfway into my trip I realized I wouldn't finish the playhouse again this year, but my goal was to make it so that it was at least water-resistant so it wouldn't have to be covered in a tarp.  So all four exterior walls have a coat of paint (they will need more next time I come).  The windows are in (almost--my dad will finish putting the last one in).  The door is on (after a lot of drama with the hinges).  And so all that was left was the roof.  We got one side on:

 And then realized that there was one more spot on the back that needed more plywood.  And my dad needed to leave to take Jeremy into town to catch his train to the airport.  So even the roof will have to be finished by my dad after I'm gone.  Talk about playhouse fail.  Lesson learned:  never try to build a playhouse out of scrap wood!!

Here's a shot of the door.  The handle is a piece of wood my mom found.  Fits in perfectly with all the other door handles around here.
Then we just chilled on the porch, trying to keep cool:

 Man it was hot.

Speaking of heat, I developed a "laptop rash" this year, but not from a laptop.  It's from the sauna.  I don't have a great picture of it, but can you see the color irregularities, the mottled-looking skin?  That's my sauna rash.  Too much prolonged exposure to heat.  Andrea gets them, too.  Hers went away last year.  Let's hope mine does.  (What's funny is that if I had gotten this from a laptop, I'd be mad at myself, but from the sauna--oh well!  Worth it!!!)
 It finally cooled off just enough to do the sauna in the evening.  Thank goodness.  Can't go my last day without the sauna.  And loads of yogurt.  And a makkara.

Random picture of some of the heather we have around here:
 And we were blessed, once again, with a beautiful sunset:

Blog Cabin 2014, Day 30--Last Trip to LPR

I promised my kids earlier in our trip that they'd be able to go to town one more time to play at Kid City Park and to get more Prisma candy for the plane ride home.  I didn't want to do it the day before we left because I wanted 1 full day at the island before departing.  Erik and Jeremy tagged along with us to do their shopping of goods to take home.  

It was Mea's turn to drive the boat:
 While in town we decided to stop in at the Hiekka Linna--Lappeenranta's annual sandcastle display.  Every year they have a theme and then a bunch of sandcastle sculptures.  This year's theme was something to do with music.  We weren't impressed with the theme, but here are some of the more spectacular sculptures:

 Also at the same place are some little playhouses that the kids can go in and explore.  They were kind of lame this year--they were all small and the same layout.  In years past there have been towers, trains, and multi-level ones.  So it was kind of a let-down to see this year's:
 The next stop was Kid City Park for the second time this year.  It was crowded and hot, so the kids were done pretty quickly:
 Then off to Prisma for candy and groceries.  We made it back to the cabin in record time because it was just so hot in town.  Soon after we jumped in the lake to cool off.  Erik and Jeremy humored Spencer with some water football:
 Jeremy smoked a pike for dinner.  It looks burnt, but it's just the skin that we don't eat.  Inside was tasty and perfect:
 More swimming.  Davin actually allowed me to take him all the way in to the water instead of just wading.  He's really a wuss when it comes to water.  (That must come from Evan).  He was really excited to kick his legs around under the water:
 Sunset, day 30 (not very spectacular):

Friday, July 25, 2014

Blog Cabin 2014, Day 29

We may have internet, electricity, and a well here at the cabin, but we still don't have running water.  My parents have been meaning to re-do the kitchen here, but before they put any cabinets or sink in, they have to do something about the floors.  (This used to be a cabin for two families, with a wall down the middle of our current kitchen.  So the flooring is two different styles and two different levels.)

So because of that, we are still doing dishes the old way described here (the only difference is that we boil well water in the sauna stove instead of using lake water).  

And so because of that, Mummi is always asking us to lick out plates clean so that the dish water doesn't get so dirty so fast.  Mea has taken her quite literally, especially on nights like this where she loves the dinner being served (meatballs and gravy over rice):

Our last fishing trip ended well.  We didn't have any bites for most of the time, but then at the end we caught quite a few.  We had to throw back 3 pikes because they were too small.  But here we have an ahven (perch) and a pike (I caught it!):

Sunset, day 29 from our fishing spot:

Blog Cabin 2014, Day 28--Daily Swimming

It's been so hot here.  25-30 C.  And no rain.  So the kids have been doing a lot of swimming, multiple times a day.  That's the great thing about being on a lake with our own beach.  

Davin is slowly become more and more comfortable with the water.  He still likes to sit on the shore and throw sand around:
 And Spencer and Mea play all sorts of games:
 When they start to get cold, they go sit in the unheated sauna (where it's still warm!).

Sunset, day 28:

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Blog Cabin 2014, Day 27--Helsinki Trip

 The last time I went to Helsinki for anything other than arriving and departing was 8 years ago when we went as a family our first summer at the cabin.  I've had no real desire to go back.  Until this year.

I discovered that there's a Marimekko outlet store in Helsinki that sells remnant fabric by the kilo.  That's right up my alley.  Plus, since a lot of the fabric I use in my Etsy shop is Marimekko brand, I wanted to check it out.  So Jeremy, Erik, and I made a day of it.  You kind of have to since it's about 3 hours away.

I meant to take a picture of the store, but forgot.  (Typical!).  In some ways I was disappointed.  But still glad I went.  Marimekko fabric is super expensive.  I'm talking $20-50 a yard/meter.  I was kind of hoping that the outlet would have some good deals.  At the Crate and Barrel Outlets in the US, they sell Marimekko fabric for about $6 a yard, and I can buy their remnants for $0.99 per pound.  But their selection isn't all that exciting most of the time.  At the Helsinki outlet, they still wanted $25 per kilo.  And most of the fabric was still $25 per yard or more.  I found some things that I bought, but if I had more money....

From the Marimekko outlet, we took the subway in to downtown. An interesting thing about the subway here--there's no turnstile or place to show your ticket/pass.  There isn't even anyone watching as you enter the subway station.  You just walk right in and can board a train.  They warn you at the ticket kiosks that if you are found aboard the subway without a valid ticket then you will be fined 80 euros.  And I'm sure they occasionally have people checking, but we went the whole day without anyone asking for our ticket.  Even on our ferry ride (more about that later).  I'm told you can find this in places in the US, but I've never experienced it.

Anyway, our first stop was the Church in the Rock.  I studied this in my architectural history classes and have always wanted to see it.  It's much more impressive than any photos I can take of it.  But it's literally that--a church built into the rock with natural lighting overhead:

 Walking up to it, you'd never guess how beautiful it is inside:

Our next stop was the marketplace for some lunch.  I was a cheapskate and bought a lihapiirakka  for 3 euros.  It claimed to be "Finland's best," but there's no way it was that.  Lappeenranta's marketplace lihapiirakkas are much better.  And I think I can even make them better.  My mom's certainly are.  They also didn't offer any fillings.  Oh well.  3 euros.  I was hungry and it solved that problem.

My brothers, however, spent 10 euros each on a fish plate that included veggies and potatoes.  They shared some with me--they were tasty!  Next time.  Here's the Muikku plate Jeremy bought:
 And the salmon plate Erik bought:
 Also at the marketplace are lots of booths that sell neat local stuff, but we've seen all that before and have what we want, so we didn't really look around.

Next stop was Suomenlinna.  It's a grouping of little interconnected islands just off the shoreline from Helsinki that used to be a fortress and used to be used as protection from the Russians.  We had to take a ferry to get to it.  Here's a view of Helsinki from the ferry:
 Finns are also known for their shipbuilding.  We passed this one on the ferry ride:

On Suomenlinna, there are all these hobbit holes that are neat to look at:

 It was a gorgeous, but hot day.  It was packed, too.  It must be a popular place for picnicing, because we saw a lot of people doing that.  And there were a lot of people swimming in some of the bays:
 Another hobbit hole:
 A man-made swimming pool that is no longer in use.  The swimmer in me thought it was neat, even though I'd never swim in it:
 Part of the old fortress:
 After that we headed home.  We didn't make it back home in time for a good sunset picture (and I was struggling to get Davin asleep).  But I'll leave you with a photo taken from the ferry that is quintessentially Finnish: