Sunday, February 3, 2013

Goodbye January!  I won't miss you a bit.  The almost daily doctors appointments, dark days without sun, the ice storm, strep throat, ER, MRI, gray and black snow, do not make me long for you. January I bid thee farewell and say..GOOD RIDDANCE!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

While in the city of Hämeenlinna, we went to the birth house of Jean Sibelius.  It really is a simple museum--he was not born into wealth.  His father was a doctor, but died when Jean was very young.  The family was then forced to leave that home and move in with his maternal grandmother.  Jean was originally discouraged by his family to pursue a musical career (i.e. find a career that pays!!), but they changed their minds and supported him as he showed such promise.  It was inspiring to see one of his pianos with the Finlandia score perched on it, while his beautiful music played in the background.  The guide even let our family tinker on the grand piano that was set up for concerts in the living room.  I plunked out the right hand of Be Still My Soul--but wished that my more talented cousins could have been there in my stead!  

A real moat!!!!

I don't know why, but I have always been fascinated with moats.  When I found out that Finland had several castles I was determined that we visit one.   I was ecstatic to see the moat--though it didn't seem all that forbidding with the seemingly shallow water and ducks floating by.  The Häme castle in  Hämeenlinna  was, well, awesome.  It was probably first constructed in the 14th century.  It was a very beautiful red brick structure as you can see.  I hadn't ever imagined red brick castles--but it is a sight to see against the blue sky.    It did conjure up images from Ranger's Apprentice!

King's Chamber

Queen's Room

Door to King's room as seen from inside the courtyard

Two cute page boys

Super steep stairs--can you imagine running up and down these without  a light helping you  to see?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Boats, Trains, and More

Our modes of transportation in Finland were widely different from our SUV at home.  It was boy heaven--we rode trains, ferry boats, sailboats, buses, and planes.  It was all fun for us--but I did have a big smile on my face when I hopped in my own car the first day back to go to Wal-Mart.
Traffic Park in Finland----super duper fun--and one of the only free activities we found.  We went back several times!

Sailing with Spencer's colleague Hekke

Ferry boat to Vikinsaari--An island 20 minutes away by boat with beaches, mini golf and  nature trails in the forest.

I love this train!
We flagged down buses like this almost daily.  Here, we are on our way home from church.

Helsinki Temple

We visited some very beautiful and interesting churches in Finland.  For us, the highlight was the LDS temple in Espoo--just outside of Helsinki.  On the outside, the landscaping compliments the dense forests and lush greenery of Finland.  On the inside, it was beautiful (of course!).  The temple also had a nice guest house where families can stay during a temple trip.  They also let you use the guest house facilities for day trips.  It worked out great for us--so that our whole family could spend time at the temple.  This was Leah's first time to go to the temple.  She and Anna did baptisms for the dead and Spencer was able to baptize them.  Anna brought some names of our ancestors for the baptisms.   It was a wonderful day--and thanks to the Golds and others that made the day possible!

Friday, July 20, 2012


In Tampere, we lived almost next door to the most famous Lutheran cathedral in Finland.  It was a safe haven during their  civil war and it is home to artwork from one of the most renowned Finnish artists.  We enjoyed visiting it several times--and we often walked through the property on our way to shopping areas.  I made a point of visiting just about every church possible--mostly Lutheran. 
I don't know the significance of young boys helping an angel--but I  know some  mighty fine  cub scouts that  showed considerable kindness yesterday at day camp.

The guide explained that the garland represents the burdens that we carry in this world--and each boy chooses to carry  his responsibilities in a unique way.  There were twelve boys around the room--but she did not know why they were all naked.

We enjoyed a couple of organ concerts--WOW!  The sound was incredible. Unfortunately, we will always remember the organ concert which ended with a sprained ankle.

Greek Orthodox church
Inside the Greek Orthodox church--the whole place glittered in gold.

Helsinki Lutheran church

Thursday, July 19, 2012

O Finlandia!

Our family recently returned from a wonderful trip and work experience (Spencer) in Finland.  I never ever ever thought we'd take our family overseas...but we did it!  I'm not the most faithful blogger (e.g. my last post was Thanksgiving time of last year), but readers, if you are still out there, Finland is worth blogging about!  So, here's my first installment.

Two excited boys at the airport!
We left for Finland two days after school ended.  It was a hectic last week of school!  Spencer had already been there for  3 1/2 weeks, but he returned for a few days to help get us all over there.  He told us to pack shorts and a light jacket.  Well, when we got there, we admired the beautiful tulips and lilacs.  It was definitely tulip and lilac weather--and we quickly found a thrift shop so we could purchase pants and coats.  Brrr!  I don't think that we ever got to see a 70 degree day.  However, we did have some very lovely days that came close.  And, we caught on to the European style of scarf wearing--they come in handy year round over there.