Monday, December 30, 2013

Year 2013 Recap

Where did year 2013 go??? Seriously. Even December whizzed by at break neck speed. Well, let's take a look at our Mothership adventures of 2013:

(See also year 2011, and year 2012.)



We started the new year in Maine. My mom was here from Finland, but soon left for my sister's house in Virginia. The Captain's parents came to help us with camp renovations and clean-up, and a little later came back for snowmobiling with friends. (First snowmobiling of the year blog post here.)

Mr. T left for Finland! To spend time with my parents and family, and to study Finnish. (You can read about his adventures here, here and here.)

Our Maine cousins came to spend a fun weekend with us. (Oh, how we missed Mr. T!)


On weekends friends from New Hampshire came to visit and snowmobile with us. I spent a couple of days in southern Maine with the Captain's grandmother, then flew down to Virginia (alone!), only to drive back to Maine with my sister and her four children. (Are you exhausted from just reading that?) Our Virginia cousins loved all the snow!

Despite being wicked cold, Mr. A and Mr. D spent a night outside camping in subzero temps! Our three teens (still missing Mr. T!) also attended a weekend teen camp here in Maine.

We also did a lot of snowshoeing (here, here and here).


Little Miss turned seven years old! We had a fun party for her with cousins and friends. We spent Easter at our camp, but after Easter the Captain and I had a great little trip to Phoenix, Arizona. We loved Desert Botanical Gardens.

March was a good homeschooling month, we got a lot done. Little Miss reviewed Kiwi Crate, and we ended up subscribing to it - great easy crafts every month!


Oh, April. We crammed SO much into April. April still had ice and snow up in Maine, and we started planning our departure. First the girls had dance recitals, and our three (!) teens attended a cartoon workshop with a friend.

Mr. T was also gearing up his return to USA. I interviewed him about his time in Finland, and posted photos of his adventures. What a neat experience!

Finally it was time to pick Mr. T up from the airport, and we directly continued on to Connecticut, Pennsylvania (read here about our stay in Lancaster area), and Virginia, with many, many, disgusting adventures (a must read blog post). In Virginia we did a field trip to Jamestown.

From Virginia we drove to Florida, and continued having (mis)adventures as our beloved Mothership struggled on. We were so thankful when we finally made it to Florida!


The timing was incredible: the Mothership needed all kinds of work done on it, and we were able to drop it off at the mechanic the day we got keys to our rental house (thank You, God!).

We enjoyed a glorious month near the beach, still homeschooling, but also building a lot of sandcastles. Little Miss learned to swim! We met our new online friends, the Frolicking Flamingos (who are coming up to Maine next month!).

Middle of the month to our great shock we discovered I was pregnant. (Here's our announcement from June.)

In May we also attended FPEA homeschool conference at Gaylord Palms in Orlando, which was fantastic, as usual. (Photo collage above.)

Before starting our travels again, (some of us) we had a lovely visit to Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg.


June first we were on the road again, in all-fixed-up Mothership. We had smooth travels north, with quick Virginia and Pennsylvania pit stops. Missy had been struggling with Lyme disease, and we found a specialist in Pennsylvania to oversee her care.

The kids and I stopped in Boston Science Museum to see Dead Sea Scrolls on our way to grandparents' house (while the Captain had a men's weekend on Nantucket Island).

We had a short visit to our Maine camp (where Little Miss learned to ride her bike without training wheels!) before traveling to Cape Cod and Nantucket Island for our annual family visit.


Fourth of July is always such fun on Nantucket! Here's some randomness from our time on the island, as well as photos from Tom Nevers beach and Nantucket Shipwreck and Lifesaving Museum. Time with family is so precious!

Sadly, I miscarried while on the island. As unexpected as the pregnancy was, losing the baby has been something I am very sad about, still. Trusting my God even in difficulties and disappointments. He is good! All the time.

The Captain, two kids and I returned to our camp to start preparing it for rentals. We were able to rent it for two plus weeks, but there was a lot to do to get ready. Our other three kids soon returned from Nantucket to help us, as well as our Pennsylvania friends. Thanks, guys!!!

Missy started homeschooling in July, the rest of waited until early September.

Since had been over four years since I had been to Finland, and almost as long since I had seen my dad, Little Miss and I used our frequent flyer miles and flew to Finland for almost two weeks! We enjoyed a quiet vacation with my parents at their cabin. The rest of the family went to Nantucket to spend a week with the Captain's parents, grandmother, aunt, uncle and cousins, and after that stayed in the Mothership in New Hampshire for a week.


Some of July's travels stretched into August, as well as our camp rental. But as soon as folks left our camp, we returned to enjoy Maine summer and vacation before school and travel started.

We especially loved blueberry picking, swimming, sailing, hiking and kayaking. We also had friends over, and some of our friends decided to check out the 'local' hospital by having their son have an appendectomy.

Our relatively quieter month was so needed, as...

... was crazy!

We spent a couple of (busy) days with the Captain's parents before flying to Florida. Since we had rented a house in Florida, we decided not to bring the Mothership this time. Not sure why, but we tend to make things complicated. Even flying to Florida. You can read about our crazies here.

When we got to our rental house, we had a day to get ready before our homeschool co-op started. That was the official start of our homeschool year. Four high schoolers and one 2nd grader! You can read about our curriculum choices here, and see our school year pictures here (which was my homework from the photography class I was taking).

When in Florida, there are so many activities for our kids to be involved in. We tried hard not to over-schedule our weeks, but we sure were busy. Mr. A and Mr. T started a homeschool film making class, and all our teens loved youth group at our church.

We started our homeschool field trips, too. We visited the Tampa Science Museum, The Great Exploration (children's museum) in St Petersburg, and visited Winter (from The Dolphin Tale movie) at Clearwater Marine Aquarium. The Captain took some of the kids to see Super Boat Races 2013 in Clearwater.

The Captain and I loved our almost daily walks on the beach, and saw some incredible sunrises and sunsets. Mr. D, Little Miss and I swam with the manatees one day!


October was filled with more homeschool activities. Little Miss and I worked on Dew Learning lessons, and the teens worked on their Monarch lessons. We took one week off from school work to visit Legoland, Sunken Gardens, Great Explorations, Florida Aquarium and Clearwater Marine Aquarium (again). The boys started flag football on Saturdays through our church. On Halloween we walked around a nearby neighborhood with friends, and had such a fun time.

On one of our walks the Captain and I happened to come upon loggerhead turtles hatching and being released - an amazing experience!


Our last three weeks in Florida we finished our co-op classes, and had to leave early from film making and flag football. Little Miss had weekly play dates with friends, and one week the kids got to walk our neighbor's dog - a highlight for especially Little Miss!

A whale beached on a nearby beach, so we took a trip to see this magnificent creature. Unfortunately the whale had to be euthanized.

Our last Florida field trip was to Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo.

Then it was time to leave Florida. We flew to Virginia to spend Thanksgiving at my sister's house. Surprisingly it was freezing in Virginia! Preparing us for Maine, haha.. We had a lovely walk at Windsor Castle Park, and also visited Busch Gardens Christmas Town.


Before we left Virginia, we had a great couple of days at Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg. And before arriving back at our Maine camp, we had a lovely visit with the Captain's family.

Maine was already very cold when we finally arrived at our destination, but we got to watch the lake freeze and ice over, which is always magnificent. There was little snow, but soon everything was covered in snow and ice.

We had so much fun preparing our camp and our hearts for Christmas season, despite our Christmas tree falling over multiple times (argh!).

The Captain's parents, grandmother, aunt and uncle visited us, and right before Christmas my sister, her family, and our dad arrived to spend the holiday with us in Maine. We also celebrated Little Miss' Gotcha Day, the teens' 15th birthday & Little Miss' Adoption Day (all in the same day!), as well as my birthday. What a wonderful Christmas time, full of joy!

Yes, another full, full year. We pray for a Happy and Blessed New Year 2014 to all our readers! Thank you for following along our adventures!

Praying God's love shines bright
in your new year
and His blessings overflow.

God has POURED OUT His love into our hearts.
Romans 5:5 


Saturday, December 28, 2013

December Joy/Joulukuun iloa!


Our December has flown by so fast. It has been a month full of joy! When we first arrived back in Maine, Missy and Grandma started working on a beautiful table Christmas tree for Missy. It is gorgeous! (Thank you, Grandma!)

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And as every year, before we get to Christmas, we celebrate four birthdays and one adoption day in one day, then another birthday two days later. Our birthdays were pretty round this time, somebody is getting old!:)

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A special blessing this year: My dad flew to Virginia, and drove up with my sister's family to spend Christmas with us in Maine!

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Our Virginia cousins helped us make Christmas decorations. We decided Kiwi Crate's cardboard gingerbread house was the best (and easiest!) gingerbread house ever! Making swirly ornaments was a lot of fun, too.

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Making and decorating gingerbread cookies (and eating them, too!) has been a favorite activity:)

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Our Christmas tree was a sad story this year. It kept falling over. Here we are decorating it, again. But it's standing now!

I think some boys are having fun here:)

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We took Christmas week off from homeschool to enjoy family time and celebrating our Savior's birth.

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We had  a beautiful white Christmas in Maine, and not just snow - a storm coated everything in sparkling ice.


Old-fashioned packages under the tree (aka someone forgot to buy wrapping paper). Very pretty!


Here's our nutty Christmas Crew! Weirdos with beardos - thanks, Sis, for the awesome hats!!

We hope your Christmas was a special time of remembering the Reason for this Season - Jesus! The Author of all Joy!

(Some of the photos were taken by my brother-in-law. He is the pro, so my apologies on the amateur editing of the pics! Thanks, M!)


Meillä on ollut vauhdikas ja ihana joulukuu. On ollut synttäreitä ja adoptiopäivää, joulukoristelujen tekemistä serkkujen kanssa, kermapiparien tekoa, ja joulukuusen koristelemista (monta kertaa, kun joulukuusi kaatui useamman kerran!).

Toivottavasti sinunkin joulusi - Jeesuksen syntymäjuhla - on ollut täynnä iloa!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Williamsburg Great Wolf Lodge Review


If you are looking for a fun family get-away (especially in the winter time), we have found it! On our travels north earlier this month we stayed three nights at Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, Virginia, and had a fantastic time! (My sister found special homeschool rates, score!)


Want to hear about our experience? If so, keep reading.

We stayed in a Grizzly Bear Suite, which was wonderfully roomy for our family of seven. Two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a living room with a fireplace. The couch in the living room was a sleeper sofa. My sister's family stayed in a Majestic Bear Suite with a different configuration, but their suite was great, too. Check out the rooms here.

Advice: make sure to bring your own hair conditioner, as our rooms didn't have any. Or you can buy hair conditioner at the spa. You also need to ask for room service daily if you need more coffee (!) or bathroom amenities, the hotel normally restocks the rooms every two (or three?) days.

No panic though: Bear Paw Sweets and Eats sells Starbucks, and there is also Dunkin Donuts at the hotel.


There is a lot to do at Great Wolf Lodge. The indoor waterpark, of course. Which was the best one we have ever gone to. Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg also has a ton of indoor activities, like the arcade, bowling alley, various games like Shadow Quest (run around the hotel for miles solving this game!), and more (click here). Most of these activities cost extra, so we only tried the Northern Lights Arcade and Shadow Quest.

Admission to the waterpark is included in the cost of the hotel room, and that really was what we were there for, so it didn't bother us that much not to do all these extra activities.

Our teens made a friend, and talking to his family, we learned they come every year. It's their Christmas gift every year! Their tip was to bring all extra purchases at the hotel back the next visit, as you can use these items again. For example you need to buy a wand for the Shadow Quest game, but you can bring it with you for your next visit, and then you just need to pay the game activation fee.

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There was NOTHING we didn't like about the waterpark. There was something for everyone. Our teens' favorites were all the crazy slides (the scariest being Howlin' Tornado - renamed Toilet Flush by our crew) and Wolf Rider Wipeout. You can see a list of the rides here, and for virtual tours, click here. Little Miss' favorites were also the Wipeout ride, and Big Foot Pass where you hop from one moving log to another.

Make sure to watch this short video of someone unnamed wiping out on Big Foot Pass. Funny!!

My favorite was the hot tub.

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Fun on the Wolf Rider Wipeout! Check out this short video of Little Miss mastering the ride.


We stayed in the waterpark for hours. Littlest one even napped there some days. There was a snack shop inside the park where you could buy lunch, or you could step outside the waterpark area to pick up a pizza and bring it in.

Your pass to the waterpark is a wristband. When you check in to the hotel, you can choose to have a regular one, or one that is also your room key, and if you wish, you can use your wristband to charge items to your account. So convenient! Our teens were able to stay in the park on their own, and when they got hungry, they'd use their wrist band to order lunch. Little Miss loved being able to unlock our hotel room with her wristband. Great technology!

In addition to the coffee shops, snack shop, sweet shop, and pizza parlor, Williamsburg Great Wolf Lodge also had a wonderful restaurant The Loose Moose Bar and Grill. There was a buffet of all kinds of foods, so everyone found something (and some more!) to fill their plates and tummies. Yum.

On our last morning we also had breakfast at Loose Moose, and really enjoyed the buffet breakfast and omelettes made to order.


If you are visiting with younger guests, make sure to check out the scheduled events for the front lobby. There was storytime, character visits, singing, dance parties etc. Santa also visits the hotel every night during Christmas season. We saw some of these activities, but my teens preferred a quieter waterpark, and Little Miss is seven going on 15, so she always chose what the teens were doing.

We highly recommend a family vacation to Great Wolf Lodge. They have locations around United States, check here for a list.

Thank you, Great Wolf Lodge, for our dinner, arcade and Shadow Quest vouchers! We really enjoyed our stay, and hope to return some day!


Virginiassa pysähdyimme kolmeksi yöksi hotelliin, jossa oli vesipuisto. Todella mahtava paikka! Suosittelemme! Toivottavasti pääsemme takaisin joskus.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Finnish Christmas Rice Porridge


Finnish Christmas Rice Porridge
In a slow cooker
Our Mothership Adventures recipe
Serves 12

8 cups of milk
2 1/2 cups of Arborio Rice
1/2 cup coconut oil
1-2 tsp salt
1 peeled whole almond
Cinnamon and sugar mixed together (to taste)

Mix all ingredients except almond all together in the slow cooker. Cook on high for about 3 hours (depends on your slow cooker). You want the rice to be soft, and the milk absorbed into the rice, but not too dry. If your porridge is too dry, add some milk, mix it, and cook little longer. Before serving, mix the peeled almond in the porridge, trying to hide it. Traditionally finding the almond in your bowl would bring luck to the person getting it, and if you weren't married, it would bring marriage. If you'd like to, the person who finds the almond in their porridge could get a little present, or get out of dish duty:)

Serve with cinnamon sugar sprinkled on top.

Merry Christmas to all our readers!

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.
Luke 2:10-11

(This recipe is a re-post from last year.)