Friday, March 30, 2012

what an evening!

Yesterday was quite the evening for us, but let me set the stage for you first.
Last Saturday evening, Sam and I went to the train station to pick up our 2 exchange students from Germany. We had a busy week, what with me getting up a bit earlier than usual to make sure there was some form of breakfast on the table (not the usual “cereal’s in the cupboard, grunt, grunt”) and a lot of extra driving (not to mention the cleaning before they arrived – when Sam sent them messages asking if they were ok with dogs, one said he was allergic).
Anyways, it was a really good week – the boys were great and it was a really good experience for all of us.
Waiting for the bus on their last morning in Finland.
So, yesterday we had to take them to the train station after dinner. We made a quick stop at the rec centre so they could say goodbye to Sofia who had a floorball practice.
At the train station they were to meet up with another student from Germany who had been staying at the home of one of Sam’s classmates.
When I asked the boys where they were sitting on the train (so we could stand in the right section of the platform), they told me the other student had their tickets.
No worries.
About 5 minutes before the train was scheduled to arrive, we finally started to worry. Sam called his classmate and it turned out that they hadn’t even left the house yet – they had not properly checked the tickets and thought they had another 50 minutes!
The train arrived. The boys got on and told us to let their friend know they would wait for her at the airport in Helsinki (they had 5 hours there before their flight).
Now, it’s been known to happen that passengers without tickets can be asked to leave a train at the next stop, so I was a little worried about the boys. Sam’s principal was on the same train to Helsinki (unrelated matter), so Sam needed to call him to get him to check in with the boys on the train. However, we didn’t have the principal’s mobile number. Sam tried to call the teacher who had organized the exchange – he was in a meeting. I tried to call my principal – who was saving an ATV that went through a hole in the ice. I did get ahold of a colleague who sent me the principal’s number at the same time Sam called a friend who looked it up online.
Sam explained the situation to the principal, however he couldn’t tell him where to find the boys on the train because they didn’t know where their seats were!
So, we could finally leave the parking lot of the train station – something I was hesitant to do before we had sorted out their whole situation . . . because I had heard a strange noise in my van as we pulled into the parking lot.
I drove slowly for about 1km, but then decided we had to stop and investigate the problem. I knew it was a problem with the wheels.
Thankfully, we had tools in the van . . .first Sam took the covers off the bolts and I finger-checked if all were tight. Then I called Stefan to explain the situation, while Sam was putting the covers back on.
Did I mention that it was really cold?
Did I mention that Sam needed to be at a meeting?
Did I mention that I was supposed to pick up Sofia from her practice (which had already ended)? When we had stopped by there earlier I told the coach he didn’t need to drive her home . . . so I was a little panicked about that – luckily, he was still there when I called so he took Sofia with him.
In the meantime, Stefan told us it wasn’t good enough to “finger-check” the bolts, it would have to be done with a tire iron, so Sam had to go out and take all the covers off (again).
Did I mention it was cold?
While he was doing that, Joel dug the tire iron out from it’s storage place.
On the last tire, he found the problem – one of the bolts fell off as soon as he touched it. And 2 more were loose.
(oh, and while all this was going on, the principal called to say that he met up with the boys – they found someone with internet and were able to confirm the boys’ tickets through email, and the other family was going to drive the other student down to Helsinki to catch the plane)
He tightened them, carefully, put the covers back on and we slowly made our way back to the rec centre (about 20km away).
As soon as we pulled into the parking lot there, I heard the sound again.
Sam removed the cover and checked the bolts, and another one snapped off!
I called Stefan to ask if I could drive like that, which I couldn’t. Joel and I had to wait for him to come get us. We left the van at a service station in town. Today we found out that I won’t get it back before Monday because they have to order the parts.
So, now I have a busy weekend ahead of me, and many more adventures to tell you about . . . next time!
Have a nice weekend!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

sweet sunshine

We’ve been having some gorgeous days lately, so it’s been easy to be in a good mood!
Our days are distinctly longer, and the change is SO noticeable week by week.
The temperature has been above freezing pretty much every day for the past while, and the snow is slowly, but surely, melting away.
Stefan snapped these pictures the other morning, just before I woke up:

Hope you’ve all enjoyed a nice weekend!

Monday, March 12, 2012

guess who’s 1 !?!

Bruno turned 1 today, and celebrated in style (running around at the farm, digging in snow, trying to catch mice).
Always a good sport, he sits still for a little dress-up.
But partying hard wears a dog out!
Here are side by side pictures of how he looks today, compared to the first picture of him in the chair, taken May 25th (~2½ months old).
Happy Birthday, Bruno!
PS – the pink blanket is still hanging on the chair today, you just can’t see it!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

stefan is forty-four!

Today is Stefan’s birthday! We woke him with gifts and breakfast in bed. He got a Celine Dion cd and an adult-size kick-sled. If you don’t know what a kick-sled is, refer to one of my posts from last year (which also explains why we needed an adult-sized one) . . . Stefan would not allow me to post the picture of him with it, because the photo was taken right when he got up.
In fact, he insisted I delete it. Which I have not.
After he got back from a bit of work at the farm, we went to his parents’ cottage to spend the afternoon. It was, mostly, a beautiful day (until the clouds came out and the wind changed direction).
Sofia and Joel.
Looking towards the island of Stubben, mentioned in my last post . . . you can see that there are actually 2 lighthouses – a red one and a white one.
The cottage.
Birthday cheesecake!

Monday, March 5, 2012

spring is in the air

Looks like we’re going to have a shorter winter this year than normal. For one thing, it started much later than usual (the snow that stayed didn’t come until after the New Year, while we were still in Canada) and for another there are signs hinting at an early spring . . .
The third week in February brought us a lot of snow; it snowed several days during that week. But last week really warmed up and a lot of the snow has started to melt. We even had a couple of days that saw temperatures above freezing.
Last Tuesday, while I was out walking Bella, a fast fog came in. I barely had time to run in and get the camera before it completely covered everything.
The snowpile at the front of the house is quite big from clearing the driveway. Bruno usually sits on top, like he’s King of the Castle.
This picture was taken right after the photos above . . . it was all foggy at the front of the house but not in the back . . .
The snowpiles in the back are quite big, too.
On Saturday, Stefan went x-country skiing with Joel, Mattias and Bella out on the ice to an island.
In the far distance you can see another island, with a lighthouse that was built in 1857 during the Russian era.
Joel, doing his best Napoleon impression.
Anyways, as you can see, our days seem to be getting milder and are noticeably longer. Me likes .

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.