31 January 2013

A month of exploring our city

wow, well, first month = done. here are the things we discovered in helsinki:

kid-friendly:
- libraries (arabia, malmi): the arabia library is in a shopping area/center. an interestingly beautiful building but again in a university area/neighborhood so the kids section was quite small and the library space was so large and airy that it wasnt cozy (except for the bubble chair). the malmi library had a nice kids area, but again the book selection was just yuck. so far i havent been impressed with the books at any of the three libraries weve been to.
- indoor playground (leikkiluola) in hakaniemi neighborhood. a fun indoor play place thats open and spacious and filled with bouncy areas and slides and places to climb. its not exactly cheap, but its a nice option for every once and a while in the winter.
- finnbrit meet-ups/play dates. this is an english-speaking organization (they mostly do english language courses) that organizes family playgroups once or twice a week. its nice to have english speaking moms and kids around, but its a challenge because a lot of the people are very temporary and dont learn finnish and are just bidding their time until they leave. its not really the vibe i need to support me in my intent to get comfortable here and find ways to enjoy myself. so im uncertain of the usefulness of this group for me.
- annatalo. a kids book cafe/art museum. we met a playgroup in just the cafe/book area, but the whole place is free and they have art exhibits on regular rotation that are aimed entirely at children.
tropicario. an indoor reptile house. a nice layout and setting to see so many large lizards and snakes. if your kid is in to it, its a great place, if not, youd be done in about 15 minutes. at 12 euros, i suppose you want to get your moneys worth. we did. X found a lizard who was quite active and she stayed near him most of the time, asking me all range of questions from "does he like to swim in water with his own poo?" to "where do you think he goes when they clean his home?"
- "open daycares" or leikkipuisto (weve visited the maasälpä and salpausselkä ones). these are city-owned lots of land with a large outdoor playground/rec area and associated indoor family center. certain mornings, the indoor space is a free play place for kids and their parents to come. other days its still free, but your kid has to have been accepted to the centers program (this just takes an application and time on a waiting list). they offer morning programs for toddlers, and afternoon programs for school kids to have a place to be until their parents come home from work. each open daycare also has one "family cafe morning" where you can come and have breakfast for only 1€50 for adults, 1€ for kids.

(the outdoor grounds of the leikkipuistos are always open to all. during working hours, they even offer sleds for all kids to play with)

nature:
- vanhankaupunginlahti bay nature area. we went for a walk at the mouth of the vantaa river. this area is called vanhakaupunki (meaning "old town") and is apparently where helsinki was first established. its very beautiful. we walked in a circle from the mouth of the river, along the river edge by a power station i think, onto the frozen bay to watch ice fishermen and people cross country skiing on the frozen bay (and cool pedestrian bridge over the river). then we looped back and walked along the open water, over the bridge onto the tiny kuninkaankartanonsaari island, and past the dam/waterfall for the power station. what a pretty place, cant wait to see it in the warmer months.

(examining an ice fishing hole in the vantaa river; on the ice of the vanhankaupunginlahti bay near the pedestrian/cross country ski bridge; some big trout statue near the river with the bridge to kuninkaankartanonsaari island in the background; walking around the power station to the waterfall/dam...our camera battery then died)

practical/errand-running:
kamppi shopping center. a useful one stop shopping/eating/transit place in the center of the city and easy to get to from our house (one bus all the way there). X can even find it on a map and read the word "kamppi" already. lol.
- elisa. we got my phone from here, they are a telecom company that does landlines, cell phones, and internet service. we tried to get a nokia cell (to support finland) but was talked out of it (really!?), into a samsung smart phone.
- hakaniemi area is rich in ethnic food (indian/asian, african) with lots of supply grocery stores (we visited "indian market" for our lentil and spice needs).
- helsinki regional transport (HSL) main office is in the central train station. we went there to get long-term transit cards.
malmin nova shopping area. the store called punnitse ja säästä (translated "weigh-n-save") has nice bulk and organic foods.
- fida thrift stores. these are like salvation armies, with proceeds going to humanitarian efforts around the world.
- pet food supplier (murren murkina). they sell the canadian brand of cat food nutmeg has gotten used to, we decided to continue the indulgence. spoiled animal. nothing like buying bags of pet food and riding public transit...
- IKEA (actually in the city of vantaa). did their cafeteria for lunch. we also learned the details of their kidcare drop-off (45 minutes of free babysitting), so perhaps next time we visit we can attempt to try that with X. we got so much glass food storageware for very little money, it was worth the trip, though im glad i dont have the time to just browse that store, its a dangerous place.
-pieni ihminen. a kids clothing store that specializes in nordic companies. expensive, but unique.

food:
- university cafeterias. we try to have lunch with dave at least once a week. he has 3 different nearby cafeterias. its inexpensive for two people and X to eat, and we get to eat together. plus, X is very willing to try anything on our plates and they have so many lactose-free options.


(lunch date with dave in his sparse-at-the-moment office)

- palmia. these are city-run cafeteria style inexpensive lunch places (X is free), though the food isnt super good its nice to be able to have an easy hot lunch while we are out exploring.
- cafe ekberg. did a sunday brunch here once, 35€ for two adults (X free). ouch. their desserts arent worth the overall brunch price, but it was nice to have lots of choice for a meal.

more finn/finland notables:
- daylight. when we arrived the daylight hours were like 9-4, but by months end it seemed to be 8-5.


(sunday morning [jan 20] there is quite enough light coming in the house to feel perfectly normal)

- language.
     we havent encountered any challenging language situations yet. everyone knows enough english to manage the interaction. yet, while i dont feel condemned by the finns for only knowing english right now, they do radiate something that makes me want to make them proud (by learning/attempting finnish), to show them that i want to belong.
     the finnish for "no" is "ei" (pronounced "eh")...as in what the UPers of michigan (and ontario) say. seeing as how the finns populated much of the UP this should be no surprise to me, but i found it amusing to learn. typically when languages translate to english i hear people ask a question, and end it with "no?" as a way to say "thats right, right?" so, "nice weather we're having, eh?" fits in totally with that scheme. fin-glish. lol.
     its amazing how ive learned almost none of the language, even with daily exposure. i know "hei" (pronounced hey) means hello, "moi" (pronounced moy) means hi, "moi moi" means bye bye, and "kiitos" is thank you. i know by sight the words for milk (maito), butter (voi), lactose (laktoos), soy (soija), and i know how to read when products are lactose and soy-free. other than that, even the food words are kinda hard to remember (i had those memorized in french in no time). mustikka is blueberry, omena is apple, applesini is orange, and puolukka is lingonberry. thats about all i can recite. there is just no common frame of reference for word roots or similar logic it seems. this is gonna be a long uphill battle, but im willing to try.

- cleanliness. ive seen more bidets here (public and private) than anywhere, ever. i honestly dont think i ever saw one in france! in general, the finns are a very clean people.

- early risers. our neighbors appear to start their day as early as 5a. people typically clear out of daves office by 4:30p.

11 January 2013

Taking care of business

friday, aka taking care of business day.

we woke up today and got out the door. we went to the city center, back to the "in to finland" office and dave got his tax card (he was the only one who needed it, because he is the only one working). while there, we also applied to kela (the social security benefits institute) for national health insurance (this may take 2-3 months to go through). we further applied for the free health insurance you can get to cover you for travel within the EU (you can use it at any health clinic/hospital in the EU and finland will pay [outside the EU you still need to buy travel insurance]).

we then went and had some indian lunch at the food court in the kamppi shopping center. in the shopping center, there is a branch of nordea bank. its basically the most international of the bank options here, and will even communicate with you (in person, paper, and electronically) in english. X and i waited out front while dave opened the account (im not allowed to open an account because i dont have income, i can get a debit card to his account though), two strangers even talked to X, in english. i was impressed (most finns keep to themselves while in public, apparently children melt that facade), also, the bank lobby had toys for kids to play with. bad ass.

back at home from our morning of errands, i tried to turn on the lights. no dice. ffffffuuuuuuuuuck. while waiting for an identification number and bank account, we hadnt yet contacted the power company to give them our take-over information (because we didnt have any to give). they had cut the power, on a friday afternoon. i had no cell phone yet. what to do!? we dont know anyone, and finns are pretty private. oh, okay, i'll just knock on our neighbors door who ive never met. as im knocking on the door, X poops. great. "hi. im sorry. we just moved in. our power got cut off and i have no way to contact my husband. would you allow me to come in to your home and use your computer? (oh, and can i bring in my kid who just pooped in her pants?)". the kind, college-aged girl named noora confessed she didnt speak much english but that i could use her computer. i tried to email quickly while trying to corral smelly X as she tried to touch everything in this nice apartment. thankfully, she discovered a dog toy to occupy her, and dave did get my message. he spent the rest of the afternoon traveling back to the city center to go in person to the power company, and then back home to call them and tell them he had manually switched the circuit breaker off and it was okay for them to turn us back on. thankfully this was all accomplished within minutes of them closing for the weekend.

later, i went out solo grocery shopping (translation: i was able to actually focus my eyes and look at the food on the shelves for once) and found all kinds of goodies, including a dessert mousse type of yogurt. rich and sweet. lastly, i went to the pharmacy for some things it seemed they didnt carry at the grocery store. while there, i saw they sell pet meds at the pharmacy!

08 January 2013

Finnished the first week

so, our first week here...id say it went more smoothly than any of our other times of first settling in. good thing for all of us. yay finland.

wednesday (jan 2): arrived. at the helsinki airport daves colleague/boss (john) picked us up, took us to our neighborhoods nearby grocery store (prisma), and dropped us off at "home". the apartment owners/landlords were there to greet us and show us around the appliances and whatnot. the wife is living with her parents nearby and is looking for work while her husband gets a theology degree from oxford. they are nice people. once we bathed the cat (and i nursed the scratch wound she gave me as thanks) and got a tiny bit settled, X and i napped. then we unpacked. the apartment is only 67 sq meters (about 670 sq ft) but it is perfectly laid out with huge picture windows in every room but the bathroom. there is also a balcony that is somewhat glassed in (for the winter), a washer in the apartment (my first time ever!), and the place is furnished. it snowed our first night here. beautiful.

thursday (jan 3): X was hungry and thus got herself up at 3:30a (and stayed up until 6:30a). at least we got to facetime my mom and al and tell them we made it. we were out the door by 10a for errands. we took the bus and tram to the local government register office. the line was short and the employees helpful. they told us it would be 2 weeks until we get our identification numbers (you can do almost nothing official in finland until you get this number. then you are a part of the all-inclusive system). X was hungry by now so we went to stockmann for lunch (their bustling well-labeled prepared food section supplied us with soy/dairy-free roast chicken, falafel, rosemary potato balls, bread, and a smoothie). it is SO nice when it can be that easy to feed her while we are out and about in the city. afterward, we went to the akateeminen bookstore and bought 2 good books in their new childrens section (it was much nicer from when we were there in april). X fell asleep on the way home followed by a too long nap once at home. dave went out to the grocery store and X and i stayed home to try out the washing machine and dishwasher. that night, X got up for a snack again and then agreed to go right back to laying in bed, but didnt actually go to bed until about 1.5 hours later. :(

friday (jan 4): we did a huge grocery store trip. dave bought household goods while i bought food. we hauled it back home and were tired. we had lunch and dave went in to work. X and i explored the playground right out front of our building. we need better winter gear to truly enjoy ourselves (better mittens! a snowsuit! lighter boots!). dave made dinner and we tiredly finished the evening (we had gotten almost no nap from X). she was up twice at night, screeching for 30+ minutes each time.

saturday (jan 5): had a late start to the morning. after breakfast we played at the playground out front. the apartment landlord came over to show us a few more things before heading back to oxford. we went to hakaniemi market. they have meats, bakeries and specialty food on the ground floor and artisanal handicrafts on the top floor. it was easy to browse without crowds when we went an hour before closing, then we took the tram down to stockmann. we got some new food items and looked for a slow cooker. no dice, so we went back home. the city center was/is nicely lit up for christmas. once back, we were in for the night. when the sun goes down here (~4p) you feel an instinctual pull toward home and to get cozy. i will try to obey that feeling in the future. actually though, the light factor is easier than it was in sweden. we realized this is because sweden is on the easternmost edge of the central european time zone, so its darkness comes earlier in the day.

(tire swing out front; her comfy nook in the couch)

sunday (jan 6): we explored a second playground, behind our apartment. there is a sled hill and play house! we hit the sales at the itis mall for a new snowsuit and polarn o pyret shirt. while at the mall, we experimented with a lactose-free sorbet for a snack (there was still milk in it, though the lactose was processed out, i guess). it appears lactose was Xs problem all along! how wonderful to have discovered this! on the way home from the mall, we saw the special tram that was a part of the light festival going on in the city (though it wasnt lit up yet). at night, X continued with her stretch of awful night sleeps (though the screeching was at least diminished).


monday (jan 7): when i finally woke up from surviving overnight tending to X, we went down to the "in to finland" office to see about health insurance and other new-to-the-country procedures. we confirmed we truly cant do another thing until we get those identification numbers (see thursday, above), so we got to take a break from administrative stuff. while at the office though, it was nice to hear that we are entitled to all kinds of kid benefits (tax benefits, subsidized daycare, pay for staying home with your child up until they are age 3) and i am even eligible for unemployment. crazy. after the "in to finland" visit, we ended up buying a humidifier in the shopping complex nearby (at store musta pörssi). then we got lost when we came out of the shopping centre, and found our way again when stockmann caught my eye. its like a damn beacon in the city for me! so...we had lunch there again, and then headed home. i was dog tired and took a nap with X. dave went to work and X and i played around home and facetime-d with my friend georgette. 

tuesday (jan 8): X and i walked to the viikki library (our closest one), they have a nicely laid out kids section with enough english books to occupy us for at least a few visits, though im hoping a more complete childrens section is in a library nearby (the viikki library is a city library housed within one of the university of helsinkis viikki campus buildings). it snowed all morning and was so very beautiful. X climbed on snow/ice piles and we dinked around the apartment for the rest of the day. i was already starting to feel that managing her all day was not in me...on my first full solo day here. ugh, im awful. researching daycare options was not encouraging though. so many questions, so many options. im a little bit afraid...like i want to hide under the covers until someone else does this stuff for me. but, it was my first major life panic in the first week. thats something, right?


(climbed the ice/snow pile all by herself [just above her head is our window]; proud; dancing in the living room)
video
(a silent tour of the apartment while it was snowing)

finn quirks so far:
-people dont say hi to strangers while out and about (this is fine by me)
-i smelled vodka breath before mid-afternoon
-trees and exposed rocks abound, even in the city
-the bright sun is not out as long, but really it still feels like morning and evening at the appropriate times. perhaps in the later afternoon you are ready to turn in and stay in a bit earlier but its not as depressing as i expected (thus far).
-confirmed by Xs boot: no one picks up dog poop in the winter! (im starting to think this is not actually a quirk, but just a general pet peeve of mine that i happen to notice wherever i go)
-kids are always seen out playing in the cold on the playground. they have such cool gear too!
-they are a quiet people, privately and publicly it would appear
-they dont shovel sidewalks during winter (they throw gravel on it for traction. you are required to drive with snow tires. but, city center has heated sidewalks, so theres that)
-due to the snowy sidewalks, parents use sleds instead of strollers

helsinki notables:
-there is a lot of use of sounds (beeps, ringing, etc) in public spaces to indicate matters of safety and convenience: at road crossings, doors to metros/buses/trams, in the metro stops as you go down to the platform, inside the buses/trams. perhaps im just rusty at city life with functioning public transit, but i find it to be very useful and smart. 

02 January 2013

Oh, yes, i see weve landed in europe

its interesting what you absorb as the first signs that you are in a new culture. whenever we come back to the states, there are things that right away permeate my consciousness and stand out to remind me i am back. the same thing happens when i go to europe now, apparently. starting as soon as we got off the plane in iceland and continuing until we rested our heads for bed in helsinki. i knew i was back in europe...

things that reminded me i was in europe again:
-the very private bathroom stalls in public places
-the loops sewn on every towel for convenient hanging (love!)
-the toilet buttons (love!)
-the rapid boiling hot water pots (love!)
-the smaller appliances
-the rampant use of hazelnut in muesli (blah!)
-the larger house items (appliances, tub, closets) are all temporary and (re)moveable
-the bedding and mattress quirkiness (its actually starting to win me over)

seemingly specific nordic/finnish stylings:
-lots of wood, metal, and glass combinations
-lots of clean lines and functionality to living spaces
-architecture does a good job blending in to the landscape and/or complementing nature
-there isnt much in the way of window dressing. i did very much love the window shutters in france, but the climate is quite a bit warmer and brighter there. i suppose i can understand the want of large, stark windows here...for letting in as much sun as possible.

NY: our reverse ellis island

it seems that every time we move out of the u.s. we need to make a stop in NY first. its a tradition. NY is like our reverse ellis island.

the day after christmas we flew through philly to arrive in albany. we had a nice holiday visit with daves family (his parents came to his sisters house as well). megan did lots of yummy cooking, and megan and courtney chose some wonderful (yet small, thankfully) X-perfect gifts (cars themed). X got lots of time with her aunt, uncle, and grandparents. we took care of final vet visits for the cat, and we prepared to pack everyone and every thing up and complete the final days in the u.s. before heading on to our new home. it was hard to fully enjoy the visit because by now we were just very, very done being guests in others homes, no matter how accommodating they were. X wasnt eating or sleeping as much as she seriously needed to be so she needed to be corralled and managed often. we were just tired and looking for some real relaxation. not that we didnt appreciate the visit, or the company, or all that everyone did for us. we were just "done".

but, we still had one stop left. 4 days before our flight to finland, we drove from albany (in a snowstorm the whole way) down to nyack to visit my friend amy and her family. she is pregnant with her second babe and when we finally arrived we were spent. luckily, they have a very kid-friendly house, so X was able to chill out, play, eat, and do her own thing...which meant we were able to relax a little bit ourselves. we went to a kids museum one day with them but otherwise just relaxed and played. the kids got along well and the adults each got some kid-free time. while we didnt have energy for much, it was nice that we could still enjoy ourselves while we geared up for departure.

Dec 26 (Wed): had a morning flight from detroit through philadelphia to albany. we had decent flights, and we got out just before an east coast snowstorm (thank goodness!). everyone was at the airport to greet us and help drive our baggage home (4 large bags, 4 carry-ons). that night, megan made an awesome dinner, complete with tasty pies.

Dec 27 (Thurs): the snow was still piling up from the day before (it didnt stop until late in the afternoon). nutmeg had an early morning vet visit to fill out EU import forms and whatnot (the visit took 2 hours). later, after lunch, dave had to take those vet forms to the USDA office in albany for additional certification. meanwhile, X and i played in the fresh snow with megan and courtney and their dog yogi. it was beautiful fluffy snow.


(X feelin the love from her aunt and uncle and even mister yogi was a gentlemen. i love this pic)

Dec 28 (Fri): all the ladies went to the nearby childrens museum of science and technology. they had a few neat aquariums, some live reptiles, an animal show (we pet a snake and turtle), and some other interesting, touchable exhibits. later that afternoon, X and dave went swimming at his parents hotel pool. it was cold but X was in heaven, finally getting some pool time. we also all watched cars 2 (a christmas present from megan and courtney) together.

Dec 29 (Sat): megan made homemade cardomom bread french toast. yum! then, X played with family while the car got packed. we drove during a snowstorm (thinking we would eventually drive out of it...nope!), so what should have been a 2.5 hour drive took 4+ hours. we made it to the celinis (amy and tonys) pink house and X instantly relaxed in the kid-friendly environment having another wee one (their son sam is 1.5 years old) to play with. she then ate the biggest meal id seen her eat in weeks. we also got to retire to our own space that night, a hotel/apartment in nanuet that allowed animals.

Dec 30 (Sun): we played at the pink house today. amy and i got out to lunch alone at nyack favorite, strawberry place. that night, the men went off to a phish concert at madison square garden. rewarding us for staying behind to be the babysitters, the children gave amy and i crappy night sleeps. :(

Dec 31 (Mon): we all met up at the new jersey childrens museum. the place was a little rundown, but there were lots of fun play areas and it was a great space for the kids to roam. afterward, we went to the amazing fairway grocery store. we did lunch at the pink house but then separated for nap time and laundry. after sharing a yummy dinner together, X scraped her hand and proceeded to screech about it for the rest of the evening.

Jan 1 (Tues): in the morning dave packed up our hotel and we spent most of the day at the pink house. then, we headed out to the airport to begin the journey. at 4p, the (JFK) airport was CROWDED, however, it was less so when we made it through security at 6p. we had to get to the airport 3 hours in advance to deal with nutmeg, but it was a good thing we did. before nutmeg was taken away, she had to been taken out of her carrier so the security people could check it out. nutmeg had peed in her carrier already so when we took her out, i had to hold her urine-soaked self on my lap. yay, animal pee on my pants for a long international flight! fun. then, X was terrible about falling asleep on the first flight (she couldnt get comfortable, and neither could i), so she intermittenly screeched. it was not at all irritating to myself or nearby passengers.

Jan 2 (Wed): we had a layover in iceland, which went smoothly. the second flight was more comfortable but shorter so while we did get some sleep it wasnt much. we arrived in helsinki at 1p local time. did they ask us for any of the personal documents we had painstakingly acquired over the past few months? (no) did they do anything more than glance at all the paperwork we had amassed about nutmeg? (no) did they ask for our residence permit cards or search our bags? (no)...in a way, im glad because i was so tired and not in the mood, but i was just a little disappointed that they didnt really want to see anything we had to show them. its better to be safe than sorry i realize, but it was a bit frustrating.

01 January 2013

Fourth quarter 2012 - Reading and watching

in times of anxiety i choose fluff and/or things that are familiar and comforting to me. so thats what i did...laugh at me if you will.

books:
- "hunger games". 4.5/5. it was like the book "hatchet" mixed with "twilight" mixed with bruce willis in the "die hard"s. whats not to like? and the leading lady was strong and intelligent and highly respectable. she had a rough life but she was honest and kind-hearted when it mattered. she also had good luck with the men in her life. the movie of this was not too good. definitely too hurried and you didnt feel a strong connection between the characters which was a major driver in the books plot. bummer, but not surprising.

- "catching fire". 3.5/5. a reasonable follow-up to the hunger games. interesting character additions, good plot arc. for me, it wasnt as good as the first book. but i will NOT cut any slack for the third book. words cannot describe how betrayed i felt spending time reading it. i cant think of another time when reading has left me feeling so pissed off and dissatisfied. the story got so, so out of hand and unreasonable it actually became boring. and then 50 pages before the end it made me feel nothing but rage. what happened to the author when she wrote this book? i cannot imagine how they make that in to a movie. i get that it was about the ugliness, unfairness, and senselessness of war but it just didnt jibe with the spirit of the other two books. it may have been a fine stand alone statement about war, but i just didnt like where the author went.

*i re-read "twilight" and "breaking dawn" while dave was in finland. that series makes me shake my head. the writing really is pretty bad. but the characters and the plot are interesting enough that my brain ignores the junk and accepts the fun ride that the story takes me on. im a sucker for romance and the movies were a decent enough approximation of the books that it adds to the appeal. so, i of course saw the final movie, on opening weekend, alone. it was a rather large let down. i was irritated that they wasted so much screen time with a huge fight scene at the end that didnt exist in the book, it made them have to move too fast through the stuff in the beginning. also, the vampire sex was lame, and renesmee's CGI-ed face was creepy. boo. :(

movies/tv:
*note: these ratings are from a place of "did they entertain me when i was stressed and take my mind off of things?", if i were to watch them again i might have a different opinion...except for buffy, it really was a great show*

- "what to expect when youre expecting". 4/5. actually good for a laugh. LOVED the dudes club. i enjoyed all the different kinds of pregnancy stories.

- "white palace". 4/5. early 90s romance with susan sarandon and james spader. found it on netflix. hadnt heard of it before. there wasnt really much new plot material in it, but it was well done, and i liked the vulnerable characters.

- "snow white and the huntsman". 3.5/5. there was enough done well about this movie: most of the cast, the costumes, the scenery, the interesting and appropriately restrained CGI action, the refreshed snow white storyline...that, for me, it carried the bits that didnt work so well...the dialogue was "meh", some of the accents were forced, and the chemistry between snow white and the huntsman was a bit odd. sometimes they didnt seem to be in the same scene together, though at least he was radiating attraction. chris helmsworth was a dreamy surprise, and also was really convincing. as for kristen stewart...i normally like her even though many dont. unfortunately, she just wasnt well suited to being an action heroine like this.

- "buffy the vampire slayer" re-watch. 4.5/5 for the series. im normally not one for extensive sci-fi fantasy, mystical plots but this show worked because of the characters and their relationships. plus, they pretty much nailed the musical genre with the episode "once more with feeling", when you can advance the plot while making catchy song and dance numbers...im completely enamoured. thanks for introducing me jules. the biggest draw to the show for me was the cheeky, adorable vampire named spike. swoon. im making note here for myself, these are my favorite spike episodes: S2E3, E22; S3E8; S4E3, E8-9, E11, E13, E16; S5E4, E7, E10-13, E14, E15, E18, E19, E22; S6E3, E6, E7-11, E12, E13, E14, E15, E16-20; S7E2, E6, E8, E9, E11-12, E13, E14, E15, E17-18, E20-E22; and on the spin-off series Angel S5E8, E9, E15-17, E20.