Saturday, June 25, 2011

. . . must . . . post?

Has it been 2 weeks already?
We’ve been relatively busy . . . a bit of yardwork, working on the main entrance/sidewalk (that was torn up 2 years ago), dealing with the pool, the puppies, etc.
The weather has not been so great the last couple of weeks, and we’ve had a couple of very rainy days. However, I shouldn’t complain – because it’s only been a couple days; just tough with the puppies and their housebreaking . . .
Speaking of puppies, here they are:
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(they’re fighting over a blanket, while lying on their backs!)
Other than that, nothing exciting going on really . . .
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These birds showed up yesterday and sat outside our kitchen window while we were eating lunch. 6 – just like us!
This is Midsummer weekend here in Scandinavia (celebration of the summer solstice, as well as St. John the Baptist’s birthday). It is generally a huge deal, with all-night parties celebrating the midnight sun. Despite having lived here almost 6 years, it’s only the second Midsummer we’ve been here for because we’ve travelled to Canada most summers.
We spent yesterday evening at the in-laws’ summer cabin with most of Stefan’s siblings and their families. I was prepared for a mostly sleepless night afterwards because our house is on the road to the beach and usually has A LOT of traffic on Midsummer with all the partygoers coming and going, but we were pleasantly surprised by a relatively quiet night – the bad weather probably kept a lot of them away (lucky for us).
Barb

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

the week, in a nutshell

Beginning the day after school got out, we had a heat wave. It lasted 8 days. The temperatures ranged from 28-32C (82-90F), and while on the surface that doesn’t sound too hot , remember that this is a very northern country and a large portion of the year is below freezing. So, it was a bit difficult to get used to it. Yesterday, however, was 9C/48F – that’s too cold!!
Sofia spent last week in a nature day-camp. She had lots of fun.
Because it was so hot, the boys and I decided to put up the pool on Monday . . . and that turned out to be a complete goat rodeo (our term for “gong show”). It’s one of those vinyl pools with the inflatable ring around the top . . . here’s how it went:
  • after laying out the pool in the right place on a tarp, we realized the air compressor was not at home. Sam, Mattias and I took turns blowing up the top ring while Joel held a beach umbrella over us to shield us from the scorching sun.
  • while the hose was filling up the pool, I went in to make lunch. After a while, I sent the boys out to pull the bottom of the pool a little flatter/get the wrinkles out.
  • when I looked out the window a bit later, I noticed some water outside the pool. Did the boys do that, or was there a problem?
  • after lunch we went to investigate and found a small hole in the bottom of the pool (which, by the way, I take full responsibility for – last August when I was taking down the pool I had to move it from under the birch tree because so many seeds were falling into it. I dragged it over to the asphalt driveway.)
  • we turned off the hose. Mattias and Sam stood in the ankle deep pool water and lifted up the edge of the pool. We dried the area of the small hole and put a patch on it, let it dry and then let the pool back down and “slosh” into place.
  • then we found another hole and did the same thing to repair it.
  • the next morning, the pool was filled but the top ring was flat. Had to blow that up again (and several times since – haven’t found the leak yet).
  • put the ladder together (which, even though it’s made of rust-resistant metal, is all rusty inside the pipes) and remember that one step is broken.
  • connected the pump, but couldn’t find the extension cord and voltage adapter. (the pool came with us from Canada)
  • found the above-mentioned items, but the adapter cord was damaged – Stefan fixed it when he got home.
  • on Thursday I bought an electrical air pump (like the kind for inflating air mattresses).
  • the kids enjoyed Wednesday – Saturday in the pool.
  • on Saturday the voltage adapter died.
  • late Sunday night the winds started up. At 1 am I had to go out and put the pool cover back on – the wind had blown it half off because the top ring is what is supposed to hold it in place.
  • on Monday we found a new pump, so we no longer need the voltage adapter . . . luckily it fits the pool and all the hoses we already had – only the filter is a different size.
  • now it’s too cold to swim.
Sam has been delaying working so far this summer – he has two tests to re-write, so he keeps saying he has to study (too often, that somehow involves the X-box). Tomorrow is the last test.
I have 2 flowers on one of my rhododendrons! I planted four last year and was worried that they might not have survived our harsh winter – all 4 have new growth.
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The puppies had their first vet appointment. They are getting along really well now. It’s so much fun to watch them together – lots of rough-housing and cuddling. But, they are a lot of work – we’re going through about 2 rolls of paper towels every 3 days . . .
Barb

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

and just like that, it’s over

School that is.
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Our last day of school was Saturday, June 4th. The last day is called “Vårfest”/Spring Festival. It begins with a service at the Lutheran Church is the school’s catchment area, followed by coffee and refreshments at the school and a program that usually includes some performances, awards, recognition and the handing out of report cards.
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Local businesses and organizations give scholarships to each school to distribute to students. Joel got one for “good schoolwork”. Although he’s not an academically strong student, the award recognizes that he’s trying his best.
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Sofia getting her report card.
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Joel getting his report card.
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Mattias and the rest of the Sixth Graders being recognized. It’s their last year at the school.
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The last song of the year.
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The Grade 6s wave goodbye to their elementary school years (one student is missing from the pic, though).
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And a bit of puppy love thrown in for good measure.
Barb

Thursday, June 2, 2011

oops . . . i did it again . . .

This had actually been in the plans for awhile.
How could I simply say “no” to those eyes.
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Meet Bella, Joel’s puppy:
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She’s a lot of the same mixture of breeds as Max had been: Finnish Hound, Karelian Bear Dog, plus she’s also Swedish Elk Hound.
Her relationship with Bruno is, so far, a little hot and cold . . . they’re still trying to work things out.
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And Pepsi is completely ticked off about the whole course of events in this house as of late.
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Most of you guessed right – Bruno is a St. Bernard (with a tad of labrador thrown in).
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Barb

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

soap box derby

Two weeks ago, Joel got to compete in a soap box derby.
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This is an annual event, held in the town that our village belongs to (as in, “in town”).
Mattias was slightly miffed, because he had been asking for several years to enter, but Stefan has never had time to build a car with them.
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Joel got to drive The Red Lion, built by the local Lions. They built the car, then had a lottery for kids who wanted to participate but didn’t have a car to drive.
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We found out on the Monday that he needed to go for a test drive on Tuesday, and then the derby was on Wednesday.
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There were over 70 racers in the event. He didn’t win or place in any of the categories, but the look on his face said it all. . . .
Barb

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.