Wednesday, November 25, 2015

3BT: Random Days

1. I finally succumbed to the temptation after having resisted it for at least three years. I bought myself a body pillow as an early birthday present for myself. You see, Indonesians use a kind of round body pillows all their lives and over here they've finally started selling body pillows (though they're longer and not in a round shape). Funnily enough, the first night I used it, I had a bit trouble adjusting myself as I hadn't been using it ever since I moved to Finland, but I'm getting more used to it now and I love it. :-D

2. Watching this video made me laugh.

3. This month it started snowing and just as I liked it, the temperature didn't go up too much, so there was no ice at all. The fresh snow may be a little slippery, but not as dangerous as the ice. Winter Wonderland, I love you! 

4. I ordered something for a Christmas gift and about a month later I realized that the price had gone up quite a lot. Feeling lucky that I got to pay the cheaper price! :-D

5. Experiencing a clarifying moment after having had a muddled brain for many days. 

6. I've been taking time away from FB for a while and it feels GREAT to have an FB vacation. :-) 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Oiling My Ears

Each year usually by the time November rolls around, I take out my SAD light box and sit in front of it regularly each morning. Otherwise I'll feel lethargic and uninspired and my brain goes foggy. If October is grey and rainy, though, I usually start using my SAD light box that month. This year was crazy in the way that I had to use this lamp already in July as this year's summer was so grey and rainy. We're now down to 6 hours of daylight and it's getting rapidly less and less as we're approaching Christmas. I noticed that a few people have already turned on their Christmas lamps when we drove around the other week LOL!!!

Ever since we got back from Malta, I had been dealing with sinus problems. The nurse prescribed me a stronger type of antihistamine and the doc prescribed me four bottles of nose spray that I could use long-term (though I prefer not to!). I only bought one bottle first and I'm now down to 4/5th of it and I had been trying to figure out a way to stop using it. You see, when I had my days off, I could get by without using it, but for work, I needed an optimal mental capacity so I could focus on work and communicating in Finnish, so I had been using the spray for work. I had also tried other means: Neti Pot, nose oil, steaming my face. The pressure between my eyebrows and along my upper teeth kept coming back. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR...

In the end I tried something else: oiling my ears. I took a Q-tip and oiled each end with baby oil and then just shoved it into my ears. The weird thing is that it has worked pretty well so far! I've been doing it for a week and I haven't had to resort to using the nose spray at all and the pressure is 90% gone. Strange but true, eh? :-D

It's been snowing again for the past few days. Yesterday was the first time I had to shovel the yard and today I'll have to do it again. It's good to be forced to get out and do something physical in winter. It was kinda heavy to shovel the snow as the temperature was 0'C and the snow was very wet. A thick pile of dry snow will be less heavy than a thin pile of wet snow.

Here are some Winter Wonderland photos I took when I walked back from work:

Here's also a video clip of downtown Sodankylä taken by Samuli Korvanen:

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

3BT: Random Days

1. Went aurora chasing two days after the previous post's big aurora, but that time the aurora wasn't as strong, so I couldn't capture the photos too well even though I had my camera and small tripod with me. However, I did manage to see reddish colour and I could see the progression of when the aurora started dancing right above the horizon before it moved further up to above my head. Here's a collage of the not-so-good photos (but at least you can see the crazy shapes the aurora can make).

2. Hubby managed to take a day off, so we went for a weekend trip to Levi and had a relaxing time there.

3. I've booked a massage for preparation to go back to work. Work is going to be super hectic during the first two weeks of the store being re-opened after the renovation, so I feel that I need a fit body for that.

4. I'm planning to send my mom to Finland next year for a visit and this thought is really exciting for me. The only thing we both need to secure first is a permission from our bosses to have the holiday at the same time as my mom's visit he he he...since she can't handle the cold, it has to be in summer.

5. Finding ginger candies at a supermarket in Levi. They're exactly like the ones I like from Indo, so even though they're expensive, I bought two packs of them HA HA HA HA...

P.S. Here's another one of the aurora photos taken with my camera (I don't have any wide lens, so can only capture bits and pieces).


Friday, October 09, 2015

My First Big Aurora

Two nights ago as I was going to turn off my computer and go to sleep, I noticed several aurora notifications from the local meteorologist site (I'm subscribed to get the notifications). When I noticed the high numbers, I realized that the Northern Lights must have been strong ones, so I ran outside and yep, despite the fact that our place was surrounded by street lights here and there (that dampened the colour and brilliance of the dancing lights), I could see their movements very clearly across the sky. I had seen them a few times before, but they were much weaker and then they were gone in a few minutes, so I never tried taking photos of them. So I ran back inside and grabbed my mobile phone as I wouldn't know how long they would last. Unfortunately my camera's battery hadn't been recharged, so I had to be happy with my mobile camera, though I doubted that it would be able to take any decent photos at all.

I tried taking photos using different modes. Fireworks: nope, night mode without tripod: nope, videotaping: nope. Just black, black, black. So I did the only thing I could do: automatic mode with flash. The first few photos were blurry, but I could see some green, so I learnt to hold my mobile more steadily and in between the photo taking session, I had to learn to hold my breath as well. You see, if I had breathed out when I held my mobile upward to the sky, my cold breath would go up and cover the camera LOL!!! If I had breathed in, my hand would shake a little. But I must say it was worth all the holding back of my breath HA HA HA HA HA HA HA...

The Northern Lights kept on dancing around the whole sky for hours, though I only stayed there for about half an hour. Amazing, though I couldn't see the green that clearly (more like very pale green/whitish) due to the many street lights around me. I didn't want to bother going farther away to find a darker place as I didn't want to miss it at all. My neck was sore after coming back as I had to look up the whole time I was out. They say that tonight there will be another strong show and I'm recharging my regular camera at the moment, wishing that it won't be cloudy tonight. We shall see how it goes.

In the meantime, here's a collage I made of the few decent photos I managed to take with my mobile. They aren't good enough to be printed, but at least you can see how they keep moving around and changing shapes. FYI, the ones on the second row are vertical photos. 

Here's one vertical photo in its original size (notice the street light below as a guide to let you know just how long the aurora is):

If you want to see other more amazing photos from across Finland, here's the link (click on each photo to see a bigger version): Aurora.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Two Separate Paths

Time and time again I've felt stumped when people say to me that they'll pray for us to have children or that they hope that we'll get a miracle pregnancy. Even when I've told them that I've considered our family complete, they'd insist, "But you WILL be happy if you get pregnant". I know they mean well, but they just don't understand that this path we've been walking on for the past few years is a separate path than the still-hoping path. There's only one person so far that I've talked to that understands that they're two very separate paths and how getting pregnant means a total redirection of life and the birth of (pun intended) mixed feelings.

You see, even though technically speaking I can still get pregnant as I'm still young enough (though I  never did get pregnant when we were seriously trying), this path we've been walking on is more similar to the path of those people who've had enough kids and the kids are already in Junior High/High School, so their focus in life is totally different. Will they be happy if the wife suddenly gets (miraculously) pregnant? I'm not saying she wouldn't, but it's not going to be the same as when the couple were seriously trying to get pregnant when they were younger (when they felt that their family wasn't complete yet). That's where we are at - well, minus the kids.

We're content. We no longer feel like we're missing something. And believe me, it's not easy to get to this stage when the world won't let us forget how rewarding and fulfilling parenthood can be and how those who are non-parents just don't get it. Just look at how people have judged the non-parents who are in politics, even writers***. I remember years back a famous female writer died and in the comment section of an article on her death and books, some people argued that she wasn't such a good writer because she wasn't a mother. This was one of the things that made me feel that I was seriously lacking something as a woman back then when I was still dying to join the Motherhood Club. The battle with the questions "Am I less than a woman because I'm not a mother? Don't I know what true/conditional love is because I'm not a mother?" was harsh.

In the letter I wrote to my mom almost two years ago when she suddenly started sending me messages about praying for us to have children, I explained to her that those kinds of prayers weren't helpful at all. In fact, it only made me feel like our family wasn't complete and that we were still missing something. Her prayers also made me feel like she was pitying us and it wasn't helpful, either. After all the time and effort it took us to finally reach this point when we're at peace with what we don't have and after all the time and grief work it took us to finally feel whole again as human beings, well-meaning (hopeful) words about a miracle pregnancy don't do us any good.  

What's funny about dealing with people who still insist on praying for us to have children is that they can be defensive when I ask them to pray for something else instead. In my mind, what's the use of praying for something when the person himself/herself isn't even trying to get it and the person himself/herself doesn't even put any efforts to get it? Isn't it absurd? Why is it with people that they keep trying to fix someone else's (assumed) problem when the other party doesn't even feel it is a problem (anymore)? 

Yes, we both have a hole in our hearts due to infertility and childlessness, but other people's prayers/hope for a miracle pregnancy only make us feel as though they were pointing to our hearts and say, "But look, there's a hole in your hearts! I want you to have children so that the hole in your hearts can be filled." What they don't realize is that we don't consider the hole to be something that has to be filled anymore. The hole has shaped us in unique ways and taught us important lessons in life, just like parenthood has shaped and taught parents in different ways. The hole doesn't feel like a curse anymore. In fact, we are now able to be thankful for the lessons given by the hole, and for that, I think other people should be glad for us.

I'm going to end this post with Brene Brown's animation on Empathy. 

*** P.S. I'm well-aware that even parents judge other parents. I suppose as long as there are humans on earth, people (sadly) won't stop judging other people no matter what, but from where I'm standing, sometimes it does feel like parents hold a trump card whenever I read comments like that. After all, how many times have you heard/read people start a sentence with "as a parent" or "as a mom"?

Friday, September 25, 2015

Pure Alexia

Remember the book on sale that I bought a while back? Well, the English title is The Mind's Eye by Oliver Sacks. It's a fascinating book full of real life stories of people who've suffered from different health problems. I haven't finished reading yet, but what I've read so far really fascinates me and it's about pure alexia. Click on the link to read more information on it, but basically speaking, Oliver has met some patients who have lost the ability to read letter and/or musical notes and/or the ability to recognize daily items, yet they still retain their ability to write (although they're not able to read what they've written).

They have found ways to navigate life with their disabilities. It's heartbreaking to read one story where the woman's condition gets worse as time goes by despite her best efforts to navigate life with her disabilities, but in another story it's truly encouraging to read how another woman manages to live a full life despite her disabilities. In fact, she even manages to use her experience to help out similar patients deal with their challenges. It's fascinating to read how a musician who has lost the ability to read musical notes can rely on her/his muscle memory and his/her ears to play a piece of music. It's heartwarming to read how other people around the patient have helped them navigate life.

But seriously, imagine for a while that you've lost the ability to recognize daily items. You go to a supermarket and then suddenly you realize you can't read the labels anymore and you can't even be sure if what you're looking at is an apple or an orange. You pick up the newspaper and you feel that what you see is written in Martian language. How would you feel? What would you do? 

All in all, even though I haven't finished reading the book, I HIGHLY recommend it. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

I found The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows by accident and I'm loving it already. I also love the videos that have been made so artistically. 

For example, I'm often guilty of jouska. Click on the link to read the description and let me know if you've done a similar thing. I definitely do that A LOT ha ha ha ha ha ha...

Here's one video. When I was watching it, I felt like pumping my fist to the air and shouting, "YEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!! This is the kind of thing I love so much!" 

Ahem...okay, let me just calm down and let you see what I mean.  

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Siam Wellness Centre (Malta)

One of the things we usually do on our holidays is find a good place to have a full body massage and this time when went to Malta at first we thought we'd just go downstairs to the spa section at our hotel. First I asked the receptionist if I had to book through them, but she told me to go downstairs and book straight from the masseuse/masseur. So I went down and there was only one person waiting there and he said that we had to book from the receptionist. How confusing! But anyway, since there was only one masseur, it wasn't ideal for us since we wanted to have the massage at the same time. There are plenty of small massage parlors around the hotel, so we thought we'd check out some of them. The first one we went to was actually closed when we tried to book (I like the fact that they often put a sign in front to let us know how many types of massages they offer and how much they cost), so we went to another one called Siam Wellness Centre.

The place was very very clean (I can't help adding this because the tiles were white and I couldn't even see any dirt anywhere) and they could take us all together for a massage and they even had one couple's room. YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYY!!! So we booked in advance, paid €5 booking fee and they gave us a piece of paper with their phone number in case we wanted to change the time or cancel. If we cancel or change the time by phoning or sending them SMS, we won't lose the €5 booking fee. Loving this system! :-D

We had two massage sessions there. The first time around I tried the relaxing massage. Very relaxing indeed, but it wasn't that satisfying because I was actually craving for something harder. Yep, my own mistake for not choosing the harder type LOL!!! I had actually wanted to try their new herbal massage, but the owner said that preparing the herbal balls took 20 minutes, so it wasn't possible. If I had known about this, I would have told her when we booked, but she said at that time that we didn't need to choose yet. So if you want to have a herbal massage, better tell them in advance that it's the kind of treatment that you want. Fortunately we did go back there, so I had a chance to try the herbal massage (this time I mentioned this right away when I booked). 

My first time having the herbal massage. I really liked it. The only thing that I had a little trouble with was my soles couldn't stand the heat of the herbal balls, so she had to wait for a little while before pressing the herbal balls on my soles he he he...I smelled like herbs when I got out. Lovely! R2 had the relaxing massage and the harder one and he loved them both. All in all, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this place! One of the best experiences we've had and if we ever go back to Malta, we won't hesitate going back there. 

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Mdina/Rabat Area

Okay, let's continue with the Malta trip photos, shall we? Before I started, though, I'd like to say that because there were four of us, we decided to use the Airport Transfer facility to get to our hotel. After we arrived, we found the Airport Transfer desk easily, so we booked the two-way transfers right away. Then we were told to wait outside (there was another Airport Transfer desk near the waiting area outside). Unfortunately, we had to wait for over 30 minutes (after 30 minutes, I came back to the desk to complain and even then we still had to wait some more) as apparently there weren't anybody else (yet) leaving to the same direction. The other four or five groups (who stayed in a different area) could leave the airport within 15 minutes already. Thankfully it was already over 8 pm, so it wasn't scorching hot to wait outside, but we were worried that MIL would've been way too tired already. 

R2 and I both agree that the airport transfer in Malta wasn't as effective as the one we used in Budapest. However, at least we didn't have to wait too long for our car back to the airport (only 10 minutes after the appointed time). Oh yeah, we paid €10 per person for the two-way airport transfer. 

Okay, now on to the photos. One day we decided to go to Mdina/Rabat area. We actually decided to go there the day before, BUT turned out the bus going there only left every hour. Although there were three different bus who go to that direction at different times (every hour for each of them), but still when we missed the first bus, we had to wait for a long time. That's why we decided to go elsewhere that day and we made sure we were in time to catch the first bus to Mdina the next day. We were a bit worried that there would be no seats left as the journey would take around 70 minutes. Luckily for us, though, there were plenty of seats. Phew!

Actually, even for shorter distances, a lot of bus drivers in Malta were a bit crazy whenever they hit the brake to stop their buses and it was tough for MIL who has bad legs. One time the bus was totally full, so we had to stand up. A woman with her son were sitting on the front seats and she immediately got up to give MIL her seat and she had to stand up for the rest of the journey (30 minutes). Very thankful for passengers like her! 

When it was time for us to leave Mdina, we were SO lucky that when we got to the bus stop, 20 seconds later a bus arrived and again we found seats. :-D After all, it was such a hot day and we were tired already. Since we didn't buy any bus card, we had to pay €2 bus fare per person for each trip.

Here are some photos taken in Mdina/Rabat area. We went to a church, a museum, and a catacomb (which was rather tricky to find) since we bought the Combo Ticket.

The lovely church floor tile.

The next few photos were taken from the museum. 

The giant squid and my hand. OK, OK, to be fair, my hand is more like a kiddo's hand in size (probably a 10-year-old kid LOL), but the squid is close to 1 metre long.

The photo below was taken in St. Paul's Catacomb. In some places it was so dark that R2 had to use his mobile's light to guide the way. The steps in some parts were rather tricky/slippery as well, so we had to be careful. It was a fascinating place, though.

 One of the many colourful windows/doors in Malta.

Last photo: a funny toilet notice we found somewhere. Mind you, the toilets were quite low, especially for men he he he...

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Back From Malta

This lazy blogger has just noticed that this year she's written so few posts compared to previous years. Work has been busier this year and I've also taken a lot of time off from using the computer to rest my mouse hand. Anyway, we went to Malta for our summer holiday this year and my throat is sore now. Hopefully it's only a sore throat and nothing much. 

Malta is such a beautiful place to visit. The temperature was around 24-32'C. We were lucky enough not to have caught any rain. When we stopped by at a bar to have some drinks (we stopped a lot of times as it was hot and we got thirsty easily), the UK owner told us that the previous week had seen some rain as well as tornado. It actually got hotter and hotter the longer we stayed there as the first two days there was some cooler/stronger wind blowing. What I love about Malta is the local buses with air-con that come on schedule and there are plenty of signs everywhere. The people speak English very well and there are lots of public toilets, too. Lots of places to see, eat, drink, shop that are still cheaper than those in Finland. Oh, and let's not forget the many Japanese/Asian restaurants and massage places here and there too! LOL!!!

As we were travelling with MIL who has problems with her knees and a cousin, we took it easy and didn't visit too many places, though we did take plenty of photos. Here are the first batch of photos from Malta. Some of them were taken by mobile phone and some were taken by R2. R2 and his cousin went on a free boat ride along the coast. I didn't go because I have really bad sea sickness. They got the boat ride for free as we had taken a hop on and hop off bus tour the previous day.

The first photo was taken in a posh marina area. Lots of shiny yachts and boats there. The building on the far left side of the background is Hilton Hotel. 

The second photo is St. Julian's Bay.

Below is a photo of St. George's Bay, the beach we went to twice. Malta has plenty more rocky beaches compared to sandy ones. We paid €20 for a full-day use of the sun loungers with parasols, the toilet, the shower and the price included a towel, too. Very handy! Plus there's a bar and restaurant on the left side. The right side (that has no sun loungers) is free to use, but there's no parasol there so you have to bring your own if you want to. 

Below is a photo of a 5-star hotel somewhere. 

Beautiful views from around the coast. Lots of historical and old buildings still in many places.

The dusk. :-)

I don't know what this is for, but this HUGE banner was seen as we were roaming around in Sliema area he he...

The vertical white figures on the mast were people graduating from some kind of marine school or something. 

OK, I shall end this here and I'll share some more photos in another post. Let's just hope I don't get sick. Otherwise when you lose a momentum to write, sometimes it's hard to go back to the swing of things.