Few days ago we went once again on a journey to our cottage. There was some talk about helping the old people out with their work at the house, anyways this doesn’t concern me as I am busy eating and sleeping all day long.
Now this journey is very boring, nothing but trees and lakes and the entire time. Okay, I don’t know about the entire time as I usually sleep in this uncomfortable seat in the back of the car. Wonder what mom would think about being stuffed in such a seat for several hours and just some annoying toys hanging down in her face. At least dad came up with the idea to visit great-aunt in Tampere so I could get some food and a new nappy. Seriously, how can my parents stay that long there, too hot! Finally they realized that it was too warm there and we continued our journey once again (not after some loud encouragement on my behalf).
Lets sum up the rest of the journey: tree, tree, tree, lake, mosquito, tree, lake, tree, elk, tree, lake, cottage. Finally there, took us long enough!
The next days were just so so, nothing too special here. Heard from dad something about a witch burning but I am not too sure what he meant, didn’t see my crazy grandma anywhere. My annoying parents didn’t even let me get close to that fire/ mom didn’t carry me close enough, well, her own fault as I had some special program for the night…
My second cousin once removed pissed me off really much the other day. Seriously, what does she think coming here with her parents and showing off her cool hairstyle? So what that you are just one month old and have more hairs than even my less crazy grandpa? Fine, wont talk to you for a while or so. At least I have my über-cool sailor hat to cover my bald head!
Yesterday old grandparents went to some summer theater and left me alone with my parents. Thanks a lot grandpa, you owe me another session of carrying your beloved grandson around the lake. Anyways, I ended up with my parents driving around town and showing some stuff. There was even this one man who stands every day at the same crossing for at least twenty years and waves to passing cars. I tried to wave back but my hand didn’t reach high enough for the window.
In the end dad had another little surprise and carried me on top of the highest hill in the area. He told some stories about downhill skiing in winter and snowboarding but I think this white stuff called snow is just a myth, never seen it in my entire life. Great view there, but where’s my food?
Tomorrow its going back home, another session of tree, tree, lake, tree, mosquito, tree, lake…
Today will be only about my father-in-law. I had so many stories about mother-in-law through which you probably got an idea how “not normal” she is most of the time. FIL however was mostly left out because he likes to be more in the background and basically doesn’t do any (most of the time) crazy things his wife tends to do.
He is now in his mid-fifties and still works in the city’s bureau which is responsible to give shops permission to open etc. There he does not have a simple desk job but drives higher officials from the bureau around when they need it or assigns other drivers for similar tasks. Long before he got this job he was a taxi driver and these days each time we take a taxi he has much to talk with the drivers. Enough about this kind of information let’s go to the more interesting ones. As I mentioned in many other articles he likes to clean. I believe it is partly because he wants to have everything clean but also due to his OCD. This means that he is not simply cleaning everything once a week or every few days, no, he cleans the entire apartment each day and each cleaning his done three times. So each day when he comes home the first thing he does is cleaning for nearly two hours before getting some rest and eats his dinner.
However this cleaning is greatly reduced when his wife is not at home, for example when she is on some holiday trip with her friends. Then he cleans much less and I pretty much know why. Because he likes to clean he was also a great asset last summer when my in-laws visited us in Finland as he could help in cleaning and polishing my car! In China my in-laws don’t have an own car because they live right in the city center of Xi’an and can reach everything very easy either by bus or taxi. Whenever they do need a car, FIL just borrows one from his work place for a few days. Even though he does not take as good care with these cars as he does with his own property, he still keeps them in a pretty good outward appearance.
As mention in the other article, he loves table tennis. Usually you would think that he has with his crazy working and cleaning schedule no time to follow his sport but you are wrong. Because his work is most of the time pretty easy he has a lot of free time in which he goes to the sports hall at his work place together with other workers and play table tennis. I guess he plays nearly every day when we are not visiting. Why not when we are visiting? Because in his free time he usually comes to help us out by bringing some boxes of drinks or fruits or goes eating with us for lunch.
From this point on you can also see his very caring and always tries his best to do something nice for his daughter and son-in-law (ME!). Sometimes he is also overdoing it a bit. For example whenever I say I liked this or that drink he will bring next day several packages of these drinks and carries them alone to the apartment (these boxes combined are damn heavy, even for me). It seems also because he always tries his best he also worries a lot. Actually, he worries about everything and this might be also a reason why he started to lose hairs and the few remaining turning grey in his twenties.
Now to his other interest: Sweets
Whenever we go to China we bring a lot of chocolate with us. These sugar/ fat bombs are mostly for MIL to give to her many friends but also for FIL. You see, he is a real chocolate destruction machine. I have never seen anybody eating more sweet stuff than him. It appears that his body does not need anything else but chocolate to keep running. Because he likes sweets so much he also brings us some traditional Chinese sweets 点心 each time we are there. I know he means well but most of these sweets are really so dry that I have the feeling of eating dust (but there are some good ones as well!).
As you can see, my father-in-law is a pretty usual guy, nothing compared to his wife. Maybe because he is so normal I prefer having him around rather than noisy and crazy MIL.
One of the few trips we did with my in-laws together last summer was to Stockholm, Sweden. My wife’s parents stayed with us four weeks, usually enough to get something decent done however we had in between a wedding to manage which took some resources from us. In the end we only managed to go to my parent’s cottage, Tallinn and Stockholm. The trip to Stockholm was already something my wife had planned before but our ever-changing schedule that summer made it nearly impossible to go anywhere.
Stockholm is a place nearly every Finn has visited at least once and this has a very simple reason: The ship cruise! The usual way to go from Helsinki to Stockholm is by ship, either leaving from the capital city itself or going further to the west coast to Turku. This cruise is so popular for Finnish people due to the tax-free store, snus and drinks. During the night hours the ship can be divided into two groups. The one group, made up mostly by families and tourists from around the world, tries to get rest for a day of activities in Stockholm and the other group, mainly consisting of the younger generation of Finnish and Swedish people partying and drinking the night away.
Right from the start we got into some trouble due to lack of parking lots at the harbor. This led to a situation in which we nearly missed our ship. Calls by my wife (as I was too unstable already by driving around the different parking lots) to the service line of the ship cruise company solved the issue right in time. These cruises are for most people something fun, they go around, eat in the restaurants, go shopping in the tax-free, sing karaoke or relax in the bar. This cruise was everything but relaxing for us. You see, once MIL discovered the tax-free store we had to go with her there several times to help her around. During that time she was in some kind of shopping frenzy as she was not able to buy any clothes for three weeks already. This resulted in her looking at each clothing item with manic eyes, trying the same pieces on several times even though she knew they wouldn’t fit or didn’t match her taste. This all didn’t matter to her, she needed to buy something! However even after the fifth time going to the store she could not find anything to buy or got convinced by her daughter not to buy this or that useless item.
As you can see, there was not so much relaxing up to this point for us, so what about going to eat? Oh no, we did not go to eat. We actually wanted but each restaurant we went to my in-laws had only one comment “Too expensive”. Well, there went the good food part of the trip as well. Karaoke? Sorry, nothing for me and I had also no interest in going to the bars so we ended up staying the entire trip (except the many visits to the tax-free store) in our cabins.
Last but not least we arrived next morning in Stockholm and experienced our very next disappointment. We took the tourist bus tour around the city but, unlike in Helsinki where the same company is operating, only a few buses had the tour offered in Chinese and we ended up on a bus without it. This meant a lot of translating work for my wife for the entire time and to make matters even worse, our bus broke down towards the end. Slightly annoyed we made our way from the last station towards the city center to grab some food. All the while my in-laws made the often repeated comments of “It is so clean here”, “Such a blue sky”, “How can they keep their windows so clean” and then one comment we hadn’t heard in Finland “So many people here”. Yes, there were many people in the streets and it felt sometimes as busy as in Xi’an but that could be because anything more than 2 people on the street is busy when living in Finland.
Usually it is fairly easy to find a nice place to eat, especially when you are really hungry. But this does not apply with my in-laws around. Usually it is something like this “We don’t want to eat Chinese”, “We want to eat something new”, “This looks so strange”, “Too expensive”, “Too foreign”, “This looks good!” and as you may guess, this last one is a Chinese restaurant…
With filled stomachs we started our journey anew through Stockholm or let’s say, our journey from clothing store to clothing store, MIL viewing each item with ferocious eagerness. Through some unknown magic she was once again not able to buy anything, making her even more crazy than usual. More crazy as we now started to go through all souvenir shops so she just could buy something, at least something little but now again, nothing. To make her mother feel better my wife came up with the idea to buy chocolate on the ship for her friends as a gift. What a terrible idea but more about that later.
As I knew already that we would spend the entire cruise back to Helsinki just in our cabins I decided to get my family exhausted by taking the long way back to the ship. This meant also we would be walking through the beautiful old town of Stockholm were the Royal Palace is located. As expected MIL had something weird to ask again “Can we go visit the King, I would like to see him”. No comment.
Thankfully we stopped at a supermarket before the harbor to buy some food for the cruise which included some sweet pastries covered in jam. The biggest and sweetest looking one we had planned for FIL (he has a real sweet tooth) but we would not know the fate of this delicious pastry until the next day. Once again on board the tax-free shop mayhem started and this time focused solely on the chocolates. As promised my wife guided her parents to the chocolate section but little did we know about the plans my in-laws had created during the past hours. We expected perhaps ten to twelve 300g chocolate bars for their friends, oh no, we spent in the end over 100€ on these chocolate bars. Can you guess how damn heavy so much chocolate is? Well, it resulted later on to some trouble when packing for their flight back to China, yes, too much chocolate. Furthermore this chocolate shopping easily took us close to two hours as my in-laws were fighting with each over whose friends would get how much chocolate, how much they would keep for themselves and so on. Let’s just say it was a basic fight over useless things as always.
In the end we managed to arrive in Helsinki unharmed. Carrying our luggage I felt like I could open a chocolate store and have supplies for at least a month. I do believe the trip might have been much more enjoyable without my in-laws, at least we could have done everything on our own pace and actually eat nicely. Oh and remember the pastry for FIL? He threw it away as he thought the jam was meat. D’Oh!