Sunday, September 25, 2011

a beautiful day

Today has been a beautiful day!
After days and days of rain (and I’m talking about Noah-esque proportions), the weather today was dry and the sun even came out to visit for several hours.
It was the kind of day to be outside . . . to cut the grass, put away patio furniture, clean up the gardens, move the dog run to a better location, work on the roof on the terrace, etc.
Sofia spent most of the weekend at the grandparents’ house because one of her cousins (who is the same age as her) was there all weekend. Said cousin’s older sister (who is the same age as Mattias), spent the weekend with us. Stefan’s sister and her husband went to Stockholm this weekend to run in a marathon, so their kids were staying with different family members. It worked out well for us, because we did it in exchange for letting some of our kids go to their house last weekend when Stefan and I went away . . .
Last weekend, Stefan and I went to Luleå in northern Sweden (we had gone there for a weekend last September also). It’s a nice time of the year for a little getaway, especially since Stefan’s work is soon going to be really busy. We enjoyed some time sans children and got to do some stress-free shopping.
The puppies continue to grow like weeds.
Bruno (28 weeks old):
Bella (24 weeks):
Pepsi (5 years) – she wanted a picture, too!:
For school pictures here, kids can get a “kompis photo” – a photo with their friend . . . so here is Bruno and Bella’s Kompis Photo:
It turned out pretty good. Especially when you consider the one we took 6 weeks ago:
I think they weren’t getting along that day . . . .
Since then, they have started obedience classes. They’ve been 3 times so far and have 2 more sessions. Bruno is the star of the class – he can do everything the instructor asks us to do with them. Bella is at the bottom of her class. I think she has ADHD . . . she can’t concentrate at all. She keeps looking at the other dogs to see what they’re doing.
That’s all for now!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

about time

So sorry.
Time slips away as the days are so busy right now . . .
I was going to post about the last day of our trip to St. Petersburg, but I only took two photos! Here’s one, from the train as we were about to leave the station heading west:
I regret that I don’t have more pictures from the restaurants that we ate at, or any of our driver, Vlad. He was awesome, and also arranged to have a second car and driver because we were so many people. He is the same young man who drove for us on our 3 adoption trips. He also translated for us.
A few days after we got home, Sofia went to her best friend’s birthday. She lives about 500 metres away, so she went by bike. The gift was in a box so big, she needed to carry it in a backpack. She also is carrying a bag with her swimsuit and towel because her friend’s house is right on the water and they were going to go swimming.
Steve sent Sofia a couple of dresses for her birthday. She’s mostly a shorts and pants/sweatpants kinda girl, but she has worn one of them a couple of times. It’s just kinda hard to wear a dress when you’re . . .
climbing trees . . .
swinging . . .
and climbing tractors.
August 16th was the first day of school for the kids:
Sam (2nd year upper secondary), Mattias (1st year high school – Grade 7), Joel (Grade 4) and Sofia (Grade 3).
We had terrific weather all summer, despite a prediction of a horrible summer. However, autumn is coming upon us quickly (I noticed the first leaves falling from the birch trees in early August). The last few days have been rainy and icky, so we’re hoping things dry up soon.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

st. petersburg 2011, day 4

I’m starting to think that pretty soon I’ll be able to post about what’s currently happening in our lives.
Until then, more pictures and details from our August trip to St. Petersburg, Russia.
On Day 4, we decided to go to Peterhof, Peter the Great’s Summer Gardens and Palaces. We had to walk over to the Neva River and take a 30 minute ride on a hydrofoil boat. While we were waiting for the boat, it started to rain. By the time we got to our destination, it was pouring.
Don’t we look a happy bunch? When we arrived at the dock, it was raining SO hard and was really windy. I was disoriented at first, and didn’t understand where we were supposed to go (I thought we had been stranded out on some type of platform!). Once we figured out how to get to the gardens, we speed walked a couple hundred metres to the entrance, thrilled that we beat most of the crowd! However, it turned out we had to pay an entrance fee and nearly everyone else figured out where to buy the tickets before we did! (We thought the entrance fee was included in our boat fee.) btw, the ticket booth has some weird glass so you could barely see the people sitting inside, especially difficult with the rain and wind.
Anyways, in this picture Sofia is especially miffed because a) she doesn’t like wearing a hood and b) she couldn’t carry one of the 2 umbrellas we were sharing between the 5 of us (it doesn’t work to have the shortest person carry the umbrella – because she won’t carry it higher than her own head).
The moods are starting to improve as the downpour lessens.
A pool fit for a princess.
One of many fountains.
Statues and more fountains.
You can see the platform where the hydrofoil boats dock in the background.
A palace fit for a princess . . .
Gardens and more fountains.
Still more fountains.
One of the fun fountains.
A hydrofoil boat arriving.
After we got back to the city, we walked around the Hermitage before heading back towards the hotel.
I caved and let the kids hold the monkeys that we had seen the day before.
The bigger monkey is flossing his teeth with a strand of Sofia’s hair he had plucked when Joel was holding him (you can see him examining it in the first picture).
After buying a few more souvenirs, we went over to Nevsky and found a place to eat dinner. We chose “Chatty Chicken”. Joel complained that he didn’t want to eat food that talks . . . It was a nice place, but they don’t get so many tourists . . . the manager had to go through the menu with us and tell us what they had . . .  no English menus!
Later in the evening we decided to go up to the colonnade of St. Isaac’s Cathedral. It was 250 steps up a spiral staircase . . . then 50 more outside:
. . . to a fantastic view! This shot shows our hotel and the church we visited yesterday.
The vendors have their shops set up in the trees on the left . . . that’s where I bought my chinchilla scarf.
Going back down the spiral staircase.
PS Ann (who commented on my last post) – yes, things pretty much shut down in the summer in St. Petersburg. For example, the Social Worker who met with us had been on vacation up until the day we met her, and our agency’s in-country director was on vacation while we were there. (And back in 2008, when we adopted, our judge was on vacation for most of September).

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.