Sunday, July 26, 2009

back at it

Not sure why, but while we were away on holidays, I didn't spend much time on fancy hairdos for Sofia . . . So, today I clicked back onto my favourite hair inspiration website and decided to go with one that had been considered for the school year end ceremony: the French Braids with FLAIR. We were going to the kids' cousin's 2nd birthday party, so I wanted her to look nice . . . Here's how it turned out:

Now, are you wondering about the bow in her hair? I made it. About a week ago, Ondrea hooked me up with a webpage that has instructions for making hairbows. I thought it was so neat, so now it's my latest obsession - I'm thinking I'm gonna make these things and sell 'em at craft fairs and such (of course, my previous grand idea was to make cards and sell 'em at craft fairs . . . the kit I ordered from Stampin' Up still sits unopened . . .).

Yesterday, I made these 2 bows:

Ok . . . I know there are some kinks to work out . . . I don't have a grasp of size yet (these things are huge!) . . . and right now I'd have to charge at least $20 each because they're so time-consuming to make . . . I'll keep you posted as my skills develop :-)

And, I'll leave you with this:

Does it get any sweeter than seeing a big brother walk his little sister down the street?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

back, safe and sound

Well, we're back in Finland - can't believe how fast 6 weeks went! I'm typing on my own keyboard (I hated the laptop) and it's much easier now that I had to cut all my nails after one bent backwards and cracked when I was making the beds at my dad's house before we left . . .

Monday morning and Tuesday morning I spent the time packing - and getting all sweaty doing it. It's hard work packing 9 pieces of checked luggage and 6 carry-ons. I've never been one to pack lightly. . . Monday afternoon and evening we spent with our good friends, the deGraafs.
This is the first year they haven't come to pick us up or take us to the airport (the whole Seattle-thing was a huge inconvenience) and the kids were none too happy about it.

On Tuesday I insisted we leave about noon (which meant we left just after 1pm) even though our flight wasn't until 10pm.
I was so sure we were going to have problems at the border, and you never know how long the wait will be. When we first arrived way back in June, the Immigration Officer gave me some extra copies of the Visa Waiver form to fill out for our return. He said that because it was 6 weeks, we would need to do new forms (not Stefan, though, because it was still valid after 2 weeks). He also suggested that the boys travel on their Canadian passports (which Stefan brought with him). I would've wagered that we'd be sent "inside". Well, the border lineup was about 10 minutes and we landed the most easy going Officer, ever. My brother was driving, so he explained he was driving us to the airport. We handed over the wad of passports which included 2 Finnish ones. He smiled the whole time. Conversed pleasantly with us and, strangely enough, never looked in the back to see who all was in there . . . Anyways, I would've lost the bet. He just told us to have a nice trip. Done. Odd.

So, we got to SeaTac quite early - so early that some people were still being ticketed for the earlier flight. After Steve left, we headed through security. The woman who looked at our passports and boarding passes was very pleasant. She asked Mattias if he had, in fact, ridden the Tower of Terror - he was wearing the t-shirt. Then she said that his passport was going to expire in August (which I knew) and Mattias looked at her and said, "Is that dangerous?"

I was first in line to put stuff through the x-ray machine. The woman who was "manning" the metal detector said, "What's wrong? You look stressed?" Has she ever travelled with 4 children?, trying to make sure they follow all the security measures . . . get their shoes and belts off . . . anticipate that they'll have to put their shoes back on on the other side . . . Silly question.

Once safely on "the other side" we enjoyed some Starbucks beverages while watching planes land. There were times when they were landing every 90 seconds! The kids were competing to see how good their eyesight was - how many planes could they see coming in to land. The most was 4 at one time.

Here you can see a plane landing just as it passes OUR plane that is parked at the gate.

On the plane, I decided to take one of the prescription pills I got to help me "relax". It didn't relieve my "travelling tummy", but I didn't need to take Imodium or Gravol, and I did, in fact, sleep for a few hours . . . after everybody was done poking me to ask me stuff . . . and we got past the turbulence (which prompted me to stop my movie and check the journey map to ensure that it was cuz we were flying over the Rockies). Funny story from the plane - Stefan was in the row behind with Sam and Mattias. Behind them, was an elderly couple from India. The gentleman slept in a somewhat cross-legged position on his seat, but his wife stuck her bare feet BETWEEN THE SEATS. Sam was completely grossed out, but he couldn't help but laugh when telling that unbeknownst to Mattias, her "gnarly toenails" were right beside his face as he was slouched over sleeping in his chair . . .

We had 3 hours in Heathrow airport, and the time went surprisingly fast because by the time we saw they had assigned us a gate, a few minutes later it was "boarding" and then "gate closing" so we had to make our way there very quickly. Turns out it was a lounge and we had to wait there because we were to be bussed out to the plane. Then they announced we were going to leave late, due to technical difficulties. Yeah - I needed another pill before this flight too:-) We had quite a bit of turbulence on this flight also, but I did get a bit of sleep.

Stefan's brother and sister-in-law came to help us get home - our car was at the airport, but there was no way we could fit all our luggage.
Sofia is crossing her fingers that all our bags arrive - at this point only 1 had come and the conveyor belt had stopped.

We were home by 6am this morning - what happened to Wednesday? Our internet wasn't working . . . turns out that the fiber optic cable we ordered was installed while we were gone. This is Finland - things like that happen here - you don't have to be home to meet the cable guy. Anyways, we couldn't figure it out, so "the boys" were still in our village (the whole village is going fiber) so they came by and fixed it up for us.

Everybody has had a time today when they were "done" and just wanted to sleep, but we managed to make it to the evening. Sofia and Joel went to bed at 9 and Mattias followed about 45 minutes later. The rest of us - soon.

And, Pepsi was very happy to see us!

Monday, July 20, 2009

again, just pictures

We've been busy around here . . . Last week we headed up to the cabin again, this time via Kamloops.

Isn't British Columbia beautiful? And my boy, too! We stopped for a bathroom break near Savona.

At the cabin, Mattias is determined to find the water again from a spring that dried up when I was a kid. Joel is helping him.

Somebody loves the Great Outdoors and cabin-life.

The ducks were back, and the ducklings have about doubled in size!

Stefan, and his helper Steve, spent a day rebuilding the dock that was destroyed by the winter ice. Look carefully. Stefan is notching out the log with a chainsaw, and that darn mother duck is sitting on the log beside him! They stayed most of the day despite all the noise and construction!

We drove 5 hours to Barkerville, a GoldRush town.

This photo was taken on the 1½km walk to the courthouse to hear about old time justice.

Stefan and I on the main street.

Panning for gold - they each got to keep the 4-6 nuggets they found.

Mattias sprained his ankle playing football on the mountain. Luckily, no trip to the hospital was required.

I had to take a picture of Sam vacuuming as we were getting ready to leave the cabin. Workin' hard or hardly workin'?

We've only less than 48 hours before our flight leaves, so much to do in the next short while . . . Again, please pray for smooth travels for us!

Monday, July 13, 2009

more photos

Joel, having fun with one of the many fans trying to dry out my dad's house.

Sofia, with Bonnie, my dad's dog. Bonnie doesn't really like Sofia yet, so this moment was quite a surprise!

At the wading pool at Cariboo Park.

Mattias at the wading pool. I love the mountains in the background . . .

Joel's best friend, Sarah, slept over while I was at a Stampin' Up catalogue kick-off party. Stefan fell asleep before I got home at 9 . . . jet lag.

Poolside at Grandma Southey's.

Hayley, Mattias and Sarah at Grandma Southey's.

Now that Stefan's here, we don't have a vehicle that can transport us all properly - someone has to ride in the "trunk" of the Jimmy.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

dealing with damage

First off, today was a busy day dealing with the aftermath of "the flood". We're pretty sure the problem was from the upstairs toilet - the shut-off valve malfunctioned and the tank overflowed. The upstairs bathroom floor was wet and then the water found its way downstairs through the floor/ceiling, following pipes, etc. It's hard to explain the layout downstairs, but suffice it to say, there's damage to the bathroom walls, bathroom lino, cabinets that line the outside of the bathroom walls, the ceiling and a section of carpeting in the basement entry (not to mention almost evrything that was in the cabinets).

Dad called the insurance company first thing this morning. By 12:30, the guy from the restoration company was here and about a half hour later Drew, the project manager from the restoration company (who, btw, looks like he's about 14). We'll see what the insurance company okays, but it looks like they're recommending replacing both bathrooms' lino and baseboards, the bathroom walls, the cabinets, and the ceiling. We're not sure about the contents . . . the stuff we threw out was not valuable. As far as the albums and scrapbooks go, Drew sent over a couple ladies (I was out with my kids) this afternoon and they've taken them all to be restored. It sounds like they'll glue them flat into similar books and scan them, do some retouching in Photoshop and we'll get the originals back as well as the new copies. Right now, there are 2 dehumidifiers and 2 industrial fans running in the house, trying to dry things out. Overall, we're quite pleased with how fast things have gone and how pleasant everyone has been:-)

As I mentioned, I was out with the kids. We went to the Christian bookstore so I could shop around a bit - I finally got my copy of Crazy Love! Then we went to White Spot for dinner, which brings up another issue . . . I'm having trouble again with Sofia and food. All 3 dinners at the cabin were an issue as well as dinner tonight at the restaurant. If she's decided she doesn't like something, or isn't going to eat it, a battle ensues . . . she will chew something in her mouth for 5 minutes and not swallow . . . she will move the food constantly around her plate, etc. I think it's a control thing, but I'm not positive. She'll eat McDonald's hamburgers, but not mine or White Spot's. On Tuesday night we had steak. I know she's not a huge beef fan, so I gave her only a small piece - it took her 2 hours to finish . . . 2 days later she heard we were having hotdogs for dinner and I said she should eat some of the leftover steak first - she finished a small portion (with potatoes) in less than 10 minutes.

Some pictures of our last week:

One of the trees in Stanley Park, Vancouver.

By the totem poles in Stanley Park. The North Shore is in the background.

Me and the children last Sunday at Buntzen Lake (about a 35 minute drive from my dad's house).

My brother (Uncle Steve) celebrated his birthday at the cabin - each candle represents 4 years. Can you tell how old he is?

My dad taught Sam how to play Crib. He'd played it before but couldn't remember any of the rules.

Mattias out on the lake. Can you see the bottle of shampoo tucked into the ring's handle?

On Wednesday night, Sofia had been sent to bed early over the dinner issue (the boys were out with Uncle Steve). When I went outside to the loo, I found these ducks in our yard. I told dad that he could get Sofia up since it's not everyday you get to feed ducks in your yard. These 3 were so tame, they were eating out of our hands.

And even letting Sofia pet them.

They came back later when the boys were home, so they also got a chance to feed them and pet them. There were 2 other mallard families hanging around (one mamma and baby would only eat in the water while the other mamma and a bunch of ducklings wouldn't eat at all) and a family of Golden Eyes (whose mamma kept attacking the mallard ducklings). The pappa from the family we're feeding in these photos was hanging out in the lake when these guys were on shore.

Happy 4th to my American friends!!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

if you were wondering . . .

Just got back from 5 days at the cabin.

As I opened the basement door at my dad's house, I sensed something was amiss.

Listening . . . drip, drip, drip.

The upstairs toilet hadn't stopped running.

That bathroom flooded (but stayed contained and didn't go out into the hall's hardwood flooring).

The entry downstairs had about a centimeter of water: water in the downstairs bathroom, all 6 shelves in the cupboards were full of water (2 garbage bags of water-logged stuff and several water-damaged photo albums, scrapbooks and baby books), soaked carpet, etc.

We spent 90 minutes on clean-up before we even unloaded the car.

Joel and Sofia ate cereal for dinner - I'm up for Mother of the Year.

After they had their baths, there was so much dirt in the tub I coulda potted a plant.

I'm tired.

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.