Experiencing the Midnight Sun

Six months ago, in the depths of my first Finnish winter, I wrote about my experiences with Light Therapy and  Seasonal Affective Disorder. At the time, with the sun barely rising above the horizon mid-day, I couldn’t imagine the same landscape with the reverse effect. Today, with the days charging toward 19 hours of daylight, I see how people survive the long dark: they dream of June. Read more

Country Mouse, City Mouse

a picture of me in my straw cowboy hat
Country Mouse headed to the big city...
You remember that children’s book about the country mouse who trades places with his big-city cousin and ventures to the city to see what it’s all about? It occurred to me this afternoon that I am that mouse. Despite having a rather big-city penchant for the opera, fine wine, fancy restaurants, and shoes, I think at heart I’ve always been a little more John Denver than Lady Gaga.

Growing Up – Definitely Country Mouse

I grew up in strip mall hell the suburbs of Indianapolis. It is by far the biggest city I’ve ever lived in, and (apologies to all my Hoosier friends & relations) Read more

Winter Gardening, City-Style

A picture of my winter garden!
My fledgling winter kitchen garden
One of the reasons that people who know me found our move to Helsinki so shocking is, I think, because we were moving from a very rural setting (town of ~2,000, huge yard, close to open space) to a totally urban setting. The shock increased when I told everyone that we intended to live in an apartment in city center, especially since the generous housing allowance would have allowed us to have a detached house with a good-sized yard out in the ‘burbs. “But what about your gardening?” is a question I heard more than once.

And it’s a good one. Gardening is more than a hobby to me. The challenge of figuring out how to grow a new plant (from orchids to celeriac), doing battle against the changeable Colorado weather, growing something unusual, especially tasty, or heirloom, and then cooking something fabulous with it, growing something so local that no gas is required to grow it, harvest it, or bring it home, and doing so organically, is nearly religion for me. But now I have a new challenge–how to get my gardening fix in a city, and a city as far north as Helsinki at that. Read more

Traveling with Children: Jet Lag & Beyond

Yesterday, the kids & I flew to Helsinki to meet Matt. That means I was solo parenting for the kids’ first international flight, and that I had to deal with baggage, customs, and a 3+ hour layover in Frankfurt without assistance (beyond the lovely staff of Lufthansa, who were quite helpful).

The kids were fabulous. So fabulous, in fact, that the woman sitting next to me across the aisle said I should write a book about traveling with children since I’d obviously figured it out! I’m chalking this up to beginner’s luck and hoping I’m not ruing her comment in another few days when we fly home. And yet, despite encountering no major meltdowns with the children, I realized that traveling with children, even well-behaved children, is different. Read more

Moving Abroad Again, This Time with Children

For the third time in my life, I am about to leave the United States and move to another country. This time, I’m Helsinki bound (previous trips were to France & England). Unlike my previous two adventures, this time I’m not just uprooting myself, but my two young children. We leave for Helsinki next month and although I am about six months away from being an absolute expert on this topic, I’ve been researching it like crazy. There are lots of good tips out there, so I thought I’d share our experiences and the resources I’ve found. Read more