Erin Virginia

Name:
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Friday, August 12, 2016

Iceland

Chris and I flew to Iceland for an extended weekend together. Rhonda was kind enough to fly to MN to stay with the kids so Chris and I could enjoy some alone time. Chris and I flew out Wednesday evening on a 6 hour flight to Reykjavik, slept very little and arrived at 9am. After waiting an hour for our bags, we picked up our rental car and arrived at the geothermal pool called the Blue Lagoon in time for our reservation entry at 11:30am. The pool is naturally heated and full of minerals such as silica, which is good for your skin but horrible for your hair. So most women coat their hair in conditioner or avoid getting it wet while in the water. The water is so thick that you can barely see your hand submerged under the surface. I imagine it would be a good spot for a murder mystery movie in which some hapless tourist bumps into a body sunk below. The pool was beautiful and relaxing, but after an hour, we hit the road for our Airbnb apartment in Reykjavik.



After picking up the apartment key and checking out the balcony view, we wandered aimlessly through the shopping district. That evening we ate at Fishmarkt and had an incredible bowl of langoustine bisque, minke whale and atlantic catfish (tastes like sea bass).




Friday morning, we woke up with more energy and set out in our rental car to explore the area called the Golden Circle, a circuit composed of three natural beauty touchpoints: Seljalandsfoss waterfall, Gulfoss waterfall and Strokkur geyser. The drive out of the city was beautiful, through mossy lava rocks, green fields with mountains in the distance and past small Icelandic horses grazing in roadside pastures. We stopped at a market for a snack, and Chris picked up some pungent dried fish that he hastily wrapped back into its package. 



At Seljalandsfoss, we parked and walked the route behind the falls, watching the water drop in arrows to a great circular pool below. The weather in Iceland was 50s and 60s and dry except for this day.




We hopped back in our car and drove through the rain to Gulfoss, a much wider waterfall. By the time we followed the stairs and long boardwalk and dirt path to the falls, both Chris and I were soaked but still in good spirits. 






We drove a few minutes further to Strokkur geyser, which exploded every 5-7 minutes. We watched two rounds, got caught in the cool sulfur vent once and then headed back to the car.



On our way back to Reykjavik, we stopped a couple places to view the gorgeous lake and explore a rocky trail.





Daylight at this time of year in Reykjavik extends to nearly midnight, and walking around downtown for a while again, Chris and I wandered to the river later that night to watch an extended sunset stretch over the water.







Saturday morning we drove outside the city to a horse stable, where a local Icelandic couple gave us an in-depth overview of why Icelandic horses are so wonderful. An interesting point is that there are no horse diseases in Iceland since the horses are so isolated, and vaccinations are not needed. However, once a horse leaves the shores of Iceland, it is never allowed to return (for example, to go to a horse show in Europe) to protect the remaining horses on the island. In addition, the horses have two extra gaits, which is apparently very unique, but I don't know much about horses. 

We rode the horses through a lava field for about an hour before heading back to the stable. 



Chris and I cleaned up after the dusty horse ride. The warm water from the tap and shower smells strongly of sulfur which took some getting used to. We ate a wonderful lunch of stew and fish sandwich and continued walking around the city. 



Our last evening in Iceland, we ate at a restaurant attached to the Saga Museum, called Matur og Drykker. Chris had reviewed restaurants and made reservation ahead of the trip. This restaurant served modern food utilizing traditional Icelandic ingredients. We ate seaweed chips and smoked trout, a beautiful bowl of creamy seafood soup and salmon with vegetables and roe.


My takeaway from the trip was the recognition of Iceland's natural beauty. I would love to return and stay in a more remote area on the island in order to hike, explore the volcano areas and eat the local food. Also, the people are very tall, and there are so many redheads! I have never seen so many redheads in one place in my life, and I must have seen a dozen other people with my exact shade of hair. These people are very obviously descended from Vikings.

Lastly, I can't end this post without thanking my wonderful mother-in-law who spend so much quality time with Fiona and Eloise, reading stories and making art with them.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Fiona - 4 Years

Our Fiona is four! She is still our cuddly girl who gives out hugs and has a very soft heart. She is 48th percentile for height

  • Fiona loves to color, paint and draw. More than anything else, she loves to sit at the kitchen table with a coloring book and set of crayons.
  • Fiona loves playing pretend. We have a pop-up tent in the basement that we use as a setting to play house, mommy and baby, three little pigs, princess, etc. In the mom-baby scenario, Fiona greatly prefers to be the mom. She calls me "kid" or "baby."
  • Fiona loves mac 'n cheese, tomato soup, apples, cheese,
  • Calls flies "shoo flies" as in, "Mom, there's a shoo fly in the house!"
  • When she says "need," she leaves off the "n" so it's, "Mom, I eed you to help me!"
  • Her school works with the kids on geography, and more than anyplace else, she wants to go to Antarctica.
  • She has a couple hours or Spanish every week at school and often tells me the Spanish vocabulary words she knows. After she tells me the words, she will sometimes make an offhand comment about how I don't know very much Spanish.
  • The other night while I was giving Fiona and Eloise a bath, I told the girls that I needed to go check on something in the kitchen and I would be right back. Fiona said, skeptically, "Really, Mom? For real, you'll be right back?" Who is this little cynic?!
  • She is kind, generous girl. Often if Eloise eats something quickly or drops something on the floor, Fiona will give up her share so Eloise isn't sad. 
  • Fiona can get self-righteously defensive of her sister. She will tell us that we are not allowed to put Eloise on time-out so we have to remind her who is the parent.
  • She is becoming more interested in God and death. Chris and I read her Bible stories, take her to Sunday school and try to answer her questions. But I pray that I am guiding her along the right path and answering her questions the right way.
Four is the start age for kids to be able to go on field trips for Fiona's preschool, and it just so happened that a field trip was scheduled for July 21, Fiona's actual birthday, at a trampoline park. Unfortunately, Fiona came home from the trampoline park sick with a fever of 102. She felt a little bit better after a long nap so we opened presents after dinner and bath. Chris and I stayed home with her the next day, Friday, and took her to the Mall of America to the Crayola Exhibit and and log ride. Then Saturday, we hosted a party for her classmates at Pump It Up, a bounce house party place. It was a bit crazy, but Fiona had a blast.

The following weekend, we held a family birthday party for Fiona and Lilly since Mike, Rhonda and Bobbi were in town. The loose theme for the party was art so I ordered a few things to keep the kids busy: unpainted wooden peg dolls and wooden snakes, as well as small canvases. The kids decorated the items with wood markers and paint, made some messes and had a great time.

Fiona opens present on the 21st: A kid's guitar and recorder




Chris and I took time off on the 22nd and took Fiona to the Mall of the America. But first pigtail braids and nail painting.



On Saturday, the 23rd, we hosted her school party at Pump It Up. Including Fiona and Eloise, kid turnout was about 20. 








Finally, we celebrated Fiona's birthday with family when Mike, Rhonda and Bobbi arrived a week later. Tony also came over to celebrate, and Fiona was ecstatic to open three enormous coloring books and a jumbo turnstile of new crayons.