Family Vacation :: Tampere & Turku


While getting our residence permits many moons ago, a Finnish native commented to us that we should be sure to visit Finland before going elsewhere. If we chose to visit other countries first, we'd find that our native land gets less and less interesting and we'd end up never seeing what Finland has to offer.
With that ringing more true than we'd like with previous experiences, we decided to heed her advice and during a week off, go visit two towns in Finland : Tampere and Turku.
This was our first road trip with a toddler. This was also our first trip in a country whose official language isn't english. We also planned this trip as little as possible. 
All of this culminated to a wide assortment of lessons learned.
The first lesson arrived when we landed in Tampere. We rented an apartment through airbnb, a really cool site where people can offer their homes as a  place to stay in lieu of a tiny hotel room. It sounded like an awesome idea. What we didn't realize is how often non-air-conditioned flats with no blackout curtains make for terrible places for babies to sleep.
At about 9 o'clock, with Eowyn still fussing and us sweating, we decided to cut our loses and check into a holiday inn. Lucky for us we had our airbnb stays covered for free through points, so all wasn't lost, but we definitely learned a valuable lesson on what to look for for next time.
We also learned that on small little country roads there is random speeding cameras. If you're going over by more than 5 km it takes a picture of you and will administer a speeding ticket. We looked it up, because we were like "woah, what was that flash!?" and learned that often foreigners luck out and the police don't bother sending the ticket, assuming that they were just driving enjoying the view (which was true.) So we shall see. Cross your fingers for us.
Also, european parking garages are part of the devil's schemes.
But we have our rule, just like always: Three things can happen that really suck, but we don't get to get too overwhelmed until it happens a fourth time. And like all other times, there was never a fourth time.
The cool things that happened were the burritos by the water, the great pizza place, the 80 year old donut recipe that was delicious. The great breakfasts at the hotels....yes I realize this is all food.
The scenery of the drive, the fun walks through the woods, and even discovering so much about ourselves through this trip.
It was pretty wild, but when we were driving home, I realized that this last leg was familiar and it felt good to come home.

This realization alone made the trip worth it.

25 Whole Years


A quarter of a century old.

I remember my mom once telling me she cried at 25. When I asked her why, she said "It was a whole quarter of a century."

'Twenty-five,' from that point on meant something to me. It was the stepping into adulthood. She laughed as she told the story some 20 years later, but I'll always remember that at 25 the real deal starts.

The real deal has apparently started.

As the day came to the end and I stared at my ceiling, I realized that if 25 years was all I got, as far as lives go, it would be a lot. Perhaps my 80 year old self would laugh and say I didn't even know what was coming, but as far as the 'human experience' goes, I'd say I've gotten to experience several bits of it.

I've felt a whole lot of joy, and a whole lot of heartbreak. I've gotten accepted and rejected, paraded and humiliated. I've felt deep loss and deep filling. I've dealt with peace and anxiety. Heck, I even have life insurance. I've ran over a few mailboxes, and said I'm sorry a lot of times. A lot of times.

I've gotten to realize how small I am. How selfish. I've seen how hard it can be to be around me, and that while I love to think I'm tolerant of the difficult and the struggling, I now know that if you make me uncomfortable, I struggle to love you. I'm struggling to change that.

I've seen that I've been a mess all along, and that Jesus loved me even before I knew it.

I've been addicted, and I've fought for freedom. I've made hard choices and  sometimes chose the easy, cop-out route. I've killed too many plants, and once dissected a frog with two clothes pins-because I'm a tomboy and gross like that.

I'm one of those moms that  hopes my precious girl will be wise enough not to repeat my stupidity. I just hope she can realize her deep, incredible worth and at the same time realize that in light of Christ, she is a sinner in desperate need of her Savior. I'm learning that sometimes, only time, and repeated lessons can teach such things. I pray for a soft heart.

I've gotten to learn what it means to love a man who sins against me. I've gotten to see a man love a girl who hurts him in his deepest heart.  I also learned how to make pancakes by that same man and learned what a good kiss is like. Praise The Good Lord.

 I've gotten to actually figure out why all those cute older couples at church keep saying that Jesus is the biggest part of their marriage.

I've dug quarters out of a couch to make sure the bank doesn't go red, and I've gotten to taste the deep joy of generosity. I've learned that often those two things can happen at the same time-and that money doesn't determine the giving-heart of a person.

I've mourned too many a heartbeat stopped, a mentor dead, a marriage broken, a child rejecting family. I've celebrated newborn smells, lives well lived, hope restored, and relationships reconciled. I'm still waiting for some. I've also lost some precious keepsakes and held my very first dog in my lap minutes before he died. I've scream-cried, and cried-laughed.

It's amazing one body can experience such strong things.

I've laughed through bad food and poor planning. I've been the poor planner. I've felt what real-deal friendship with women feels like, and I now understand why we need each other so desperately. I've been the receiver of grace and I'm sold on it.

I've felt Jesus, and heard him and had a few of those crazy evangelical experiences my lutheran friends are wary of, and I've searched long and hard to see if they hold up to the harder questions life throws at us. I've gotten to test my heart and use my brain and see, really if the God of the Bible is enough. As our family often says "Faith isn't blind."

All in one lifetime.

Thanks to all of you who made these past 25 years happen. Special thanks to my mother who birthed me, and then loved me through my toddler years and middle school years, and teenage years, and college years.. History does indeed have a way of repeating itself, Eowyn is teaching me that my mother is a saint and that it's a miracle children live to adulthood. To my dad who wouldn't let me date guys that sucked and was smart enough to not give me the easy answers, to my sister who taught me how to laugh and what a good joke was, to friends who have given me hope that while the days are short, that's part of why they're so beautiful. To the love of my whole life, who daily makes my heart swell up with wonder at how God managed to make such a man, and to the two-year old special addition to my life, my firstborn; to the girl who makes my days long, and at the same time some of the best I've ever had, thanks for who you are. A special thanks to all you who choose to love me daily, and remind me of the better things to come.

and to Jesus who has redeemed my darkest of moments and made the bright ones brighter, to the lover of my soul who  'makes beautiful things out of dust.' You're kind of the whole point to this deal.

So, cheers to twenty five. Whatever I get left, I'd say is icing on the cake.

Birthday Bash :: Eowyn's Birthday Weekend & Two Year Old Interview!


Chocolate Chip Pancakes, Starbucks date, Linnanmaki Amusement Park, Chicken Nuggets, SeaLife Aquarium, Presents, Mac N Cheese and Sprinkled Ice Cream sandwiches.

She even was sung happy birthday in Finnish!

Two is shaping up nicely already.

And, for a new fun tradition. Yearly Interviews! Here's a 6 minute show of the ridiculous skillz of Eowyn Sprague. Her rooster crow, minion siren noises and praying to Jesus abilities are top notch these days. 

Eowyn is TWO :: Happiest of Birthdays


Look at that kid! Eowyn, you are the dreamiest little girl I have ever met, and it's so awesome that you are my daughter! You are the silliest thing I've ever seen and I have so much fun tasting the pretend food you make, setting up blocks so you can knock them down, and settling in to read a good book. You are already so inquisitive and have a hesitant curiosity that keeps you safe but allows you to explore. I love how musical you are becoming and can't wait to hear that voice and see what kinds of instruments you'll be playing. My bet is on the drums. I love your hugs and kisses and get so excited for all the adventures we'll have over the next years to come. I love you baby girl!