Saturday, June 27, 2009

favourite photo friday

We spent some time at 2 parks today.

This was a break between the 2 parks after a visit to 7-11.

Mattias said he was dizzy and needed a rest . . .

Joel loves the fire pole . . .

Sofia loved the playground equipment . . .

The second park was actually the playground at the elementary school my brother and I attended. I know, I know. Is it a coincidence that it looks like a prison?

AND, they caught that darn rabbit again. (Phyllis, tell your boys they caught it to turn it over to the local animal shelter.) However, it was after business hours, so they took the fellow over to the park, fed him a radish and released him, again.

Friday, June 26, 2009

moments like these

Tonight we went out to see our friend's daughter perform in The Wizard of Oz. She was so cute!

We got home late, again, so the children were sent off directly to bed. Of course, I was up and down the stairs several times, helping those who are up and Sofia who is down. Once Sofia was finally tucked in, I went back up to settle the boys and do some chores in the kitchen (yes, that included a snack for myself, I'm ashamed to admit . . .). When I came down the stairs for the last time, Sofia called me into her room one last time.

She looked at me and said, "I very, very love you, Mama."

Sometimes I wonder if I am deserving of the love of this child. There are so many times I am not the parent I want to be. So many moments I wish I go back and do-over.

But, tonight, she made me feel like I must be doing something right. We have come so far in our relationship. This is such a good thing.

Maybe I'm just overly sentimental right now . . . I'm watching Barbara Walters' tribute to Farrah Fawcett and bawling my eyes out . . . interviews with Ryan and Jaclyn done just days ago, before she died - heart wretching stuff.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

breshnev no more

Today's highlight - I got my eyebrows waxed. If you're wondering why I think this is a big deal, it's because I haven't had them done in 2 years . . . Admittedly, I haven't been to every salon in Finland, but the ones I have been to haven't had the proper wax for faces . . . go figure . . . AND, while I was having it done, Joel and Sofia were sitting quietly waiting (Joel was horrified to be there) and Sam and Mattias came in to let me know where they would be waiting . . . The lady asked if they were all my kids. When I admitted they were, she said, "But you're so slender!" Thank you nice lady! Did you know that I went out and bought "fat pants" before traveling so that I can eat anything I want while I'm on vacation?

In other news, we went to my old workplace today. It was great to see my old co-workers even though it was just a short visit. I also wanted to go through my old filing cabinets and see if there was anything in there that I might want . . . when we moved 4 years ago, I only took 2 boxes of stuff from my classroom because I couldn't envision what I might need - there was 14 years' worth of teaching supplies there . . . I ended up taking a 5 inch stack of file folders (novel studies, mostly, for my own kids) and Mattias found 7 of my novels he wanted.

It was raining here today, so after the school visit we stopped at the mall (where I got the aforementioned wax) and the kids got AandW rootbeer floats. I enjoyed a pineapple julius.

While I was making dinner, the kids decided to catch the rabbit that's been hopping about the neighborhood, snacking on my dad's bedding plants. They did catch the thing - using a stick and the recycling box. They wanted to hand it over to the authorities, but we made them let it go because we didn't have time to deal with it.

Joel got invited to a sleepover at his best friend's house, so we headed over there after dinner and visited for awhile before leaving him there.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Maybe you heard . . . Sam fell off a bike yesterday and fractured the end of his collarbone . . . this is the same boy who broke his foot just days before we went to SPB for Gotcha Day.

I was just about to take the 3 others to the park when I got the call from the mom at his friend's house . . . he had slept over in our old neighbourhood. It was decided that the mom would take him to the emergency room and get him started on "the list" . . . I drove out to meet them with Mattias in tow so Dad wouldn't have too much policing to do back here at his house.

It took 4 hours there - mostly waiting in triage - it went faster after that. The doctor flicked him on the head when she found out he wasn't wearing a helmet at the time - and he got a little lecture along with it:-) When she was writing the prescription, she told him that the meds would make him stupid - then she looked at Mattias and said to him, "but you probably won't be able to tell."

Nothing can be done other than wearing a sling and taking it easy.

So, today while Sam was nursing his injured shoulder, I took the other 3 to Burnaby Village Museum . . . it's set up as a village at the turn of the century . . .

It's not everyday you get to play pingpong in a museum that's an over-100-year-old house! Fun!


They watched a silent movie in here and thought it was really cool.

The mechanic working on the cars told us he would've taken us for a ride in this car, but his partner was away today and he couldn't leave the garage unattended . . too bad.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

late night photo friday

Playing at Sapperton Park with Uncle Steve.

Joel's first haircut the day after we got here . . . ain't it great?

The Holm kids at the spraypark.

At Sapperton Days Street Festival - Corki the Clown makes the best balloon hats. Joel got Wile E. Coyote, Sofia has an octopus and Mattias has Daffy Duck.

At Sapperton Days - Joel's newest haircut.

Sofia and Joel entertaining Alexa, the daughter of my good friend Lynda.

Sofia went to Jayde's birthday party tonight . . . enjoying a piece of cupcake cake.

It was a swim party . . . she's making this face because a couple of boys were goofing around behind her - they kept splashing on her and knocking into her . . . she wasn't impressed . . .

Friday, June 19, 2009


Stopped by bestbuy today and bought a wireless router for my dad's computer, so I can finally do some late night catching up on the blog, emails and facebook via Sam's laptop. . . Of course, it's dark, so I'm having trouble seeing the keyboard . . . must get better lamp . . .

I've, also, finally had the chance to read my other favourite blogs - for some reason, my bloglist didn't show up on my dad's computer . . . I felt sooo out of the loop . . .

Tomorrow, I will post some photos . . . but I can't right now . . .

Sunday, June 14, 2009

what we've been up to . . .

Sam has helped Moffa (Grandpa) trim the hedge.

Mattias' bag finally arrived this morning (after a call at 11:52pm last night asking if we wanted it delivered after midnight . . .).

Andrea popped in to visit the other night with the girls.

Sofia has spent a little time with Charlotte, the girl next door.

We've been to Sapperton Park, including the spray park today (Sofia's first spray park experience).

They've had Slurpees.

We had AandW burgers, DQ, and Red Robin.

I've had Starbuck's once, compliments of Andrea.

We're eating our way through Salt'n'Vinegar chips, Ketchup chips, Corn Pops, Fruit Loops, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Honeycomb, Munchie Mix, Little Debbie cakes and Goldfish crackers.

I've managed to catch up on So You Think You Can Dance thanks to MuchMusic.

I've washed Dad's curtains.

The boys (Mattias) came home with loads of free stuff from the garage sale next door.

I took the boys for haircuts at the mall yesterday . . . I put off doing it until we got here because children's haircuts are pretty pricey in Finland. . . Generally, it was ok, but Joel's was pretty bad - the bangs were REALLY crooked so we went back a few hours later and had her fix it. Well, it just got worse - the bangs were really short and it looked like his hair had been cut while he was wearing a helmet. So, today I took him to another place and he got a "caeser". So much for saving money . . . . I will maybe post pictures if we can get Sam's laptop online . . .

Thursday, June 11, 2009

we're here

We made it here safe and sound last night. Went to bed at 11pm and woke up around 7am this morning. Apparently, Sam was awake a little earlier over at Steve's house, and I woke up from him tapping on the window, trying to get in over here.

The details of our trip:

We left our house on Monday at 7:15pm. We stopped once for dinner and made it to the airport about 1am. We tried to sleep in the airport, but it wasn't very successful at all. I had checked in online, earlier, and was only going to have to print our boarding passes and check our bags at the airport. Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way and the passes wouldn't print so I had to check in at the desk. The problem had something to do with the fact that 2 of our kids are "S.Holm" and when they scanned the passports, Sofia's info was getting read twice and Sam's not at all. In the end, she printed up only one of Sam's boarding passes and advised us to get the other once we got to London.

I, of course, was a nervous wreck on the 3 hour Helsinki-London flight. I couldn't eat the food provided - Mattias ate mine. It was a bacon brioche. All I managed to get down was an orange juice and a glass of water. I kept thinking - should I get an Imodium or a Gravol? Which do I need more? But I was too nervous to get up and take either. Sam and Joel sat in the row in front of me, Sofia and Mattias. Mattias was really helpful with Sofia, telling her what was happening and what to look for out the window. As you know, I don't like to talk about the flying experience at all.

In London, we disembarked on the tarmac and were bussed to terminal 3. Then we had to follow the signs for connecting passengers, up and down escalators, hallways, etc. where we had to catch another bus to terminal 5. And, something happened to Mattias' feet on the flight, and his shoes didn't fit anymore (according to him) so he was just about in tears by the time we got to terminal 5 (he even fell getting off one of the moving sidewalks he was so distracted by the pain). At T5, we had to go get Sam's boarding pass printed (the one that wouldn't print when we checked in in Helsinki). Then we went through security, which is way better now compared to when we went through there last time in 2007. After a bathroom break, we ate breakfast at a restaurant which cost a small fortune in pounds! And then we just hung out until it was time to go to our gate. At the gate, we had a great view of all the planes taking off, which fascinated Sofia. And our plane was parked right in front of us.

The London-Helsinki flight went REALLY well, I wasn't nervous at all and I have no idea why. Sam and Mattias sat together and I sat with Joel and Sofia behind them. For the first time since I can remember, I was able to eat the meal served on the plane (and it was really tasty, too). I love that BA has the individual tvs, so I was able to watch a couple movies and some tv shows. But, I didn't get much sleep because every time I nodded off, I felt a tap, and heard "mamma". Sofia wanted to know things like: how long, how far, when are we there, is there going to be more food, why is the plane stopped (this was when her and Joel looked out over the clouds and couldn't perceive the speed we were jetting along at!). Joel and Sofia finally fell asleep with about 3 hours of the flight left and it was really hard to wake them up when we landed.

Things started smoothly at the airport. While were we waiting in the 'welcome to the USA, here's how we'll take your fingerprints' line, one of the officers looked at me and the kids and said, "they look tired. Follow me." and let us cut to the front of the line. The immigration officer who processed us was really nice. My stuff was easy, but the kids were traveling on their Finnish passports, so we had visa waiver forms to fill out for them. Sam had to have his fingerprints taken and a digital photo as well. The officer also gave me the cards to fill out ahead of time for when we head back so I won't have to take so much time at the border. BUT, I had grabbed the kids' snack boxes they got while they were sleeping on the plane, so I had to admit we had an apple in one of our bags . . . SO, we were ahead of the crowd by the time we got to baggage claim, but not for long. Eventually we were last, because we were waiting for the one bag that did not show up. It was still in London, we later found out. After dealing with that, we headed to leave, but WHOA, we had an apple, so we had to follow the yellow line to the left. More officers. They decide to just scan the carry-on that had the snack packs and not all our luggage. Then a couple of them opened up the boxes, removed the apple slices and we were on our way.

Steve picked us up and we loaded his rental van and headed north on I-5. We stopped to eat near Bellingham. The boys were delighted to drink root beer again! Sofia didn't like the bacon or sausage that came with her pancake. At the Canadian border we had to go in and get the kids' passports stamped and show the letter that I had permission to travel with the kids.

I think we got to Dad's by 20 past ten. We chatted for a bit and then got everyone settled in bed, and slept quite well.

It was Mattias' suitcase that was missing and we've been told that it will be here tonight or tomorrow night. Until then, he's wearing the spare clothes from the carry-on, and I just ran out to walmart to get him some new socks and underwear.

Monday, June 8, 2009

6 months

No time to get all wordsy . . . just a few pictures to mark 6 months since Sofia came to be with us:

I thought, "How cute. I'll take a photo of them washing the car in their life jackets."

Then I realized, "Hey. . . . those are the shoes they're gonna wear for the next 36 hours of traveling . . . Drat."

Guess I'm gonna have to bag 'em and throw them in the suitcases. Wonder what they can wear instead . . .?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

uhmmm . . . gotta sec?

In about 30 hours, we'll be piling the suitcases and the family into the car and starting the drive down to Helsinki.

Our flight leaves Helsinki at 07.50 on Tuesday. It's a 3 hour flight to London. There, we sit for about 6 hours. Then it's a 9½ hour flight to Seattle. My brother is picking us up at SeaTac. Then it's about a 3½ hour drive to my Dad's house in the Vancouver, BC suburbs.

I'm not sure how long we'll be hung up at the border . . . Stefan's not coming with (he's coming later in July). Not sure if we'll encounter any problems with our plethura of passports . . . I've got a notarized letter from Stefan stating that I'm actually allowed to travel with our crew . . .

Here's where you come in - I don't like flying, at all. I need your prayers for peace within me so I can travel with my kids without having to use the Gravol/Imodium/prescription "relaxing" meds I have along.

'Nuff said.

Friday, June 5, 2009

i'm hungry

I am currently in the last few hours of the 3 Day Hospital Diet. It stinks. Tonight was the worst meal . . . I was supposed to eat a cup of tuna (barf) and a half cup of cauliflower. I couldn't do it. Sofia ate most of it (the tuna), with joy, from my plate.

Anyways, does it count as a successful diet if all I think about is what I'm gonna eat tomorrow?

Yesterday we got our copy of the SW's report - we passed with flying colours (no mention of the bike incident, the cold showers or bouncing on her head on the trampoline). The last line read: The adoption in Sofia Holm's case has been very successful.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

my kids - up close

On this day I posted a video from Monday evening. Sofia had been battling a cold and her voice was cracking us up! It was still raspy, but getting better. As I may have mentioned before, she talks non-stop, so getting her to rest her voice was very difficult!

In the video, Sofia understands me, even though I'm speaking English. But, she mostly answers in Swedish. How cool is that? I usually speak English to her now, unless it's more conceptual (then I have to speak Swedish).

btw, the SW called last Friday (to get our employment addresses) and, according to her, everything was fine with the visit:-) They were especially impressed with Sofia's language development. The only thing they caution us about is starting school in the fall . . . Sofia has just finished the somewhat equivalent of kindergarten and is set to start Grade 1 in the fall (here, students don't start school until the year they turn 7). The SWs are of the opinion that institutionalized kids need to be kids as long as possible, that play is very important for them to learn how to do. We are torn with this because Sofia is REALLY looking forward to Grade 1. She wants to do what Joel has been doing this year in Grade 1. She talks about it a lot. If we hold her back, she will be really unhappy.

The Holms

Denmark Road Trip

The outskirts of St. Pete

St. Petersburg

Saint Petersburg: Sankt-Peterburg, Russian pronunciation: is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea. The city's other names were Petrograd (1914–1924) and Leningrad (1924–1991). Founded by Tsar Peter I of Russia on 27 May, 1703, it was the capital of the Russian Empire for more than two hundred years (1713–1728, 1732–1918). Saint Petersburg is home to more than two hundred museums, many of them hosted in historic buildings. The largest of the museums is the Hermitage Museum, featuring interiors of the former imperial residence and a vast collection of art. Celebrating the 300th anniversary of its foundation, Saint Petersburg was selected as the main motif in a recent Finnish commemorative coin, the €10 Mannerheim and Saint Petersburg commemorative coin, minted in 2003. The reverse of the coin features a view of Saint Petersburg, with the Peter and Paul Fortress and its three turrets. In the coin the words "St. Petersburg 1703-2003" can be seen.