It’s that time again!

Time to keep an eye on the Swedish Christmas Goat!

As those of you who read my blog know, the Goat appears in Gavle, Sweden, at the first Sunday of Advent and tries to make it until Christmas, although since it is basically a giant shaped strawbale, it tempts people to set it aflame.

May you at least make it past Lucia Day, Gavlebocken!

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Clicking on the image links to the Goat’s webcam.

Stirred Up on Sunday

I’m at it again! My inherent love of random old British stuff compels me once more to steam a pudding on “Stir-Up Sunday,” the last before the first Sunday of Advent. Even though last year I made the Pud a little late and completely forgot to steam it on Christmas Day, I doggedly determined to attempt it again this year. Besides, all the spices and the candied orange peel just makes the house smell great during the six hour steam!

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Just prior to being steamed.

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After the steaming.

Just needs a holly spring and a topping of brandy butter and it could be something out of Dickens!

Or you could just douse it with more brandy and light it, like this fellow.

However, I don’t recommend that you actually eat it while it’s burning.

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

Pretty

I’ve always wanted to see a live performance of The Nutcracker, but it never seems to fall at a time that I can…yet. I have a daydream of going out with my daughters on a girls’ day out, getting tea at the local English tea room and then going to see the live performance at the local theatre. Or at least, going out for hot chocolate and then seeing the performance. Alas, that’s still a few years out. So in the meantime, we found that there were some versions we could stream for free on the computer! The family favorite right now is George Balanchine’s Nutcracker (which was somehow unavailable this morning. Uhoh). We skipped over the Arabian Dance since it was a leetle more than I wanted a 4yr old imitating–and she was imitating half the dances she saw–but otherwise everyone loves the production. The boys generally stay through the Mouse Fight and then are in and out after that, but even Miss M twirls to the music. It’s adorable.

Princess is also getting tons of mileage out of the ballerina dress I found this summer at a jumble sale.

Dancing with Daddy. Sunshine wore a tutu over her church dress and then left it out, allowing Miss M to abscond it and take over.
Dancing with Daddy. Sunshine wore a tutu over her church dress and then left it out, allowing Miss M to abscond it and take over.

And the ballerina dress she received for her doll on St. Nicholas Day.

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Even Sunshine enjoyed a brief stint borrowing her sister’s gown. Until sister unleashed her redhead temper and I had to put the gown in time out for a while (oh, a dose of real there)

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Happy

By now some of you who read my blog have heard of the Demise of the Christmas Goat. That wasn’t too happy. However, very opportunely no less than two Goats have arrived at the Haus to become part of our Christmas traditions.

First was this one, from my Mom for St. Nicholas Day. She found it through her Annalee collection catalog. I like how it has torn Santa’s boot already (yes, that’s intentional. My kids did not do it)

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Then yesterday, quite unexpectedly, I receive a package from my cousin containing this fellow!

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And there is much rejoicing in the Haus to have a straw goat that is not going to burn up! 😉 Thanks so much, Jill!

Funny

Miss M, would you like to try on your sister’s Lucia crown again? Maybe you can be our Lucia Queen this year.

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Then again, maybe not.

Happy Funny

The St. Nicholas LEGOs gathered under the Advent tree on St. Nicholas Day … to hear Gandalf the Grey read a story?

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Real

The Force is strong with this one.

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(Yes, her sleeper is on backward. Don’t ask.)

Yarn Along–In which I show that I did begin the Hat

Ah, another Wednesday. Fortunately I do have a little something to show for my knitting efforts this week. It hasn’t been as much as I could wish, but then again, welcome to Advent–the Season wherein Most of Us Put Unreasonable Expectations upon Ourselves.  I had hoped to do a little baking each day, too, but if I kept myself to that task, then I’m about six days behind. Quite frankly, the only goal I should have while baking is to save about half the batches to actually send to other people  before the kids find them.  Freezers are good for this sort of thing. 😉

But anyway, the knitting.

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There it is! The hat brim! I have a great Work In Progress jar, don’t I? I found it at Victorian Trading Company some years ago. Until last month it was a pen and pencil jar, but I like it better for my yarn. It sits on top of my yarn-and-fabric cupboard. I’ll show you a better picture of that when I get it cleared off. 😉

As for reading, I took a darker turn and opened a few volumes of Poirot stories by Agatha Christie.  I like her Poirot stories and I do enjoy her mysteries, but unlike Jane Austen and P.G. Wodehouse I cannot read more than one or two of Dame Agatha’s works back-to-back. I did that one summer–read about 12 Agatha Christies in a row–and found myself suspecting my neighbors of dark designs and deep plots. So, Agatha Christie in moderation! I’m also reading Persuasion by Jane Austen at present.

Around the Haus we are enjoying a number of Christmas books. St. Nicholas brought no less than five when he visited last week, quite the variety.

St. Nicholas, the Real Story of the Christmas Legend

The Three Gifts of Christmas

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey

Lucia, Saint of Light

Charlie and the Christmas Kitty

Dear little Miss M is nuts about this book, too, that has been in our Advent/Christmas box for a few years now.

Who is Coming to Our House?

So there we have it! Happy Wednesday, Happy Second Week of Advent, and Happy Hobbit-viewing to all of us who get to see it this weekend. 😉

Overheard in Advent

While stuffing Miss M’s stocking with her usual toys…

DINO: I was spoking not a word, but went straight to my work.

(reference: Twas the Night before Christmas by Clement C Moore)

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PRINCESS: (sings loudly) Joy to the world, the Lord is done!

******

DINO: I want to open number four now. (Advent calendar)

ME: Sorry, son, that’s for tomorrow.

DINO: WHAT?!?!? I don’t like that.

ME: Advent’s all about patience, son.

DINO: I don’t LIKE patience.

Of course, if we all liked having to practice patience, what would be the point of Advent as a mini-penitential season? 

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

Happy Feast of St. Nicholas, beloved patron of children and, among numerous other patronages, brewers! We love St. Nicholas over here.

Real

I’m doing this a bit backward today because I want you to see this first. 🙂 The other day I wrote you that the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities had not passed the Senate. I learned this very morning upon opening my e-mail that the Senate plans to revote after January 1.  If you’re unfamiliar with it, the CRPD is a United Nations convention that seeks to protect the rights of people with “long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory” disabilities.

It seeks to protect the “rights” of these people by usurping parental rights “if deemed in the child’s best interest” by the government and forcing those classified as having those disabilities to receive “reproductive services.” I.E. Sterilization.

This is what our country is trying to do to this boy, born 9 years ago today at 24 weeks gestation.

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Not the happiest birthday present I can give him, is it? But we promised him the day he was born that he would get all the love and care and help he would need to live a cherished life on this earth, and we have done so. We will always do so. Because he is worth it.

He has been through more hell than you and I could comprehend. Have you almost died? He almost did. Several times. But he fought back. We fought back. He has the best team of people watching out for him today. His speech therapist rocks. His neurologist is one of the best in the field. He is surrounded by a family who loves him.

He is not a statistic. He is not just a number. He is not going to become one, either. He is not going to be classified, dismissed by a government who doesn’t think he has the chance to be meaningful.

He has already changed lives. A friend of mine said a co-worker of hers rethought his stance on abortion after seeing Trooper’s NICU picture in my friend’s cubicle and hearing of his fight for life.

You might think this is silly, but in my family we have a goofy habit of using movie quotes in our daily parlance. When I think of Trooper, a line from The Hobbit comes to mind.

Why the halfling?

Why…? Perhaps it is because I am afraid. And he gives me courage.

My son gives me courage. He gives me strength. He is my example of patience, of enjoying simple everyday moments. His smile lights up our world.

He is our hero.

Happy 9th Birthday Trooper. You are so loved, my biggest boy.

Holding him for the first time, December 29, 2003.
Holding him for the first time, December 29, 2003.

(Please pray that the UN treaty doesn’t pass.)

Funny

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This morning we woke to the sound of Rascal announcing that St. Nicholas had arrived. Groggily I smiled and sounded encouraging every time he came into the room announcing what each of them (and us) had received in their shoes last night. He was especially impressed with the Little Debbie Christmas Tree Cakes in the Advent tree and the gold chocolate coins also hanging there. I confess when I saw it I was (ahem) pleased with the effect as well. 🙂

Soon Dinosaur’s excited voice added to the mix. And Princess’. And all the while I wondered what Haus Meister was still doing asleep. If they are awake, shouldn’t he ready for work? Both eyes open now, I reached over and grabbed my phone. The time read 4:07am. At that I hopped out of bed, alotted a Christmas cake to each awake child, and ushered them back to their beds until a reasonable hour.

Happy

Our Advent Tree.

Oh this Advent Tree.

This is the third year we’ve gone out the first weekend of Advent and bought a small real tree for the kids to help decorate with Jesse Tree ornaments as the days of Advent stretch on. The first year, memorably, we even packed our tree into our van, between the driver and front passenger seat, and drove up to Indiana with the lights plugged into the cigarette lighter. We made it look very Christmasey on our trip.

This year, somehow, I was behind on getting our Advent things ready. You would think since it came late, we’d be on top of things, right? Ha. Anyway, even though two years ago I drew my own Jesse Tree ornaments for the kids to color, I thought it would be easier to just have them make some out of salt dough and bake them. Ha HA. They were more interested in playing with the homemade playdough. So fortunately for me the lovely and talented Charlotte at Waltzing Matilda linked to other lovely and talented women who had Jesse Tree ornaments and I went with these since it reminded me of an old Advent calendar my mom had for us when my sister and I were little. Also, it included the O Antiphons, a part of Advent I cherish. Three of the kids cut out two copies of an ornament each morning, glue them together, and after I punch a hole in them and tie a ribbon, on the tree they go.

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And it is well that we have three copies of the ornaments as Sunshine and Miss M go crazy rearranging them. At least this way there’s a semi-reasonable chance that most of the set of ornaments will be on the tree this year. We always add lights on Dec. 5th because that is the day the Jesse Tree remembers Abraham, and God’s promise that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars.

The first night we had the tree, Rascal lamented its barrenness and despite my assurance that it would fill up, decided to do a bit of decorating with things laying around.

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This included the “Rudolph nose” that won’t be on the van this year since I lost the antlers, an Angry Bird plush toy, and the ends of a ribbon spool that look like he put CDs on the tree. Pleased with the effect, however, Rascal and Dino then sat across from it on the couch and sang ‘O Christmas Tree.’ I love our life.

We did take most of it down to make room for the Jesse Tree ornaments the next day. We had three days to catch up on by that point.

Pretty

Enough already, right? Almost, almost. Just our Advent stations to go now….

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In the middle: the Advent tree my father-in-law made for Trooper’s first birthday. There are Christmas card pictures inside each box so when they are opened, you have something pretty to look at. Inside the doors this year are slips of paper with a daily Advent task on it. When the task is accomplished, the slips become part of a paper chain to go on the Jesse Tree. On the left of the Jesse tree is a calendar Rascal received at CCD and on the right is Trooper’s annual sticker Nativity calendar. Or what I made into one, at least. The LEGO calendar is for Rascal and Dino to share but as of going to post isn’t going to reside at this station since Sunshine opened half the doors. The Nutcracker one is for the girls, and each day a little book ornament tells the story of the Nutcracker Ballet before these ornaments too, go on our Advent tree.

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In the kitchen, more Advent calendars! Our parish sent little Advent calendar cards to every child in the parish. Every! We got six, each individually addressed to our young’uns. My Tasha Tudor Advent Calendar is the standing book, and I have another vintage one in our bedroom (behind locked door). There’s a third Tasha one somewhere but I can’t recall where I put it (!!!).

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This is our Advent wreath again this year, constructed by Rascal. He had the idea to make the candles stand up, which impressed me a bit since that hadn’t occurred to me. I might bring out our lovely German wooden one, but I’ll keep it high up and out of reach.

Oh, and I do have a countdown candle, but I forgot to blow it out one night and now, heh heh, I won’t have to light it again until December 14th.

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Those marks on the wall are about to disappear for good. Haus Meister is almost done painting the living room, and we’re just going to keep it up until every room that needs paint gets it! He has a lot of vacation time coming up that he has to take since it can’t roll over, so guess how he’s going spend it? I’ll keep him plied with goodies to thank him. 🙂

Yarn Along–Yarn Shop Edition

Happy Advent! We have been slowly getting things out and ready, building the anticipation for Christmas. On the First Sunday, in his homily our priest mentioned how the anticipation for something is as important as the event itself. So it is with Advent. The anticipation around here is in high gear, let me tell you. Our Jesse Tree…well, stop by tomorrow and I’ll have pictures. Let’s just say it has become a conglomerate of scripture-based Jesse tree ornaments and then some others that the children add.

Meanwhile, this week’s project:

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Advent page courtesy of Princess, who prefers pink candles to purple ones, naturally.

You’re thinking–but it’s just a big brown ball of yarn! And you’re absolutely correct, except that it is going to be Haus Meister’s hat this Christmas. I intend to cast on tonight. First I had to unwind the twisted hank into a ball because I work better that way. Then about 75% through the ball winding–I don’t have a yarn swift yet–I got the hank into a seemingly hopeless mess. So last night I finally got it all put together.

Haus Meister found this yarn for me in Canada when he was sent there on business last January. He was gone over my birthday so absolutely spoiled me by bringing back no less than twelve hanks of yarn from The Philosopher’s Wool. He was very impressed with their shop and sent me pictures on his phone from inside the store. Of course he considers himself kind of lucky that he has a wife so easy to please–just gift her some yarn and she’ll be happy! And of course he’s right. Yarn, buttons, pretty knitting needles…yep. He has it made. In case you’re curious, the hat for Haus Meister is their dark brown heather colorway and the rest of the yarn he brought me was in dark purple heather that was originally meant to be a shawl (see kit here) but I am hoping against hope to one day be skilled enough to make it into a sweater for myself…maybe something like the Aran for Anne from Jane Austen Knits Summer 2012.

image copyright Jane Austen knits and links to Ravelry's project page
image copyright Jane Austen knits and links to Ravelry’s project page

Haus Meister wants me to knit him the gentleman’s sweater (Aran for Frederick, Jane Austen Knits 2011). In gray, of course. He has faith in me to do this and I have the unquenchable ambition to give myself huge crafting goals. Not a bad combination and always interesting to see what actually does eventually come of it. 😉 Never mind that where we live, we might wear wool sweaters three times a winter. But hey, if we go to Indiana or if he gets sent back to Canada, we’ll need them. At times I do wish, though, that our winters here could sort of resemble this:

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The Christmas Goat in Gavle, Sweden

But really, I like our neck of the woods. The locals wouldn’t know what to do with that much snow anyway. We practically call state of emergency on 2″ around here.

Anyway, last month Haus Meister was out on a job stateside and found a yarn shop on his route. I told him someday, when the kids are grown, I’ll just travel with him and bring along my needles. While he’s working I’ll just go find a yarn shop and have some fun! 😉   Anyway, on his way home from the job he called to inform me that he had his Christmas shopping done and that I would love it.  I was impressed that 1) he was done with my Christmas gifting before December 17, 2) that he had been able to stop at the yarn shop and 3) that although technically closed, someone was there doing bookkeeping and let my husband in to do some shopping. He sent me some pictures for kicks.

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and this one that I’ll leave you with for laughs.

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Oh. Ahem. As for reading, I confess I haven’t done much except flip through Christmas issues of Victoria and The English Home. Otherwise my evenings have been spent addressing Christmas cards while watching Haus Meister paint the living room or watching The Hunt for Red October…which isn’t Christmasey in the slightest, but we still enjoy it.

Got Nog?

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I’ll never forget the look on Haus Meister’s face when he opened the refrigerator in the beginning of December, 2003. We had yet to celebrate our first married Christmas, and I blithely picked up some egg nog at the grocery store, not realizing that in his family they made a nice ritual of enjoying eggnog for the first time on Christmas Eve. However, Haus Meister had always wanted to enjoy eggnog a little more often so when I asked if it was okay that I had bought some, he grinned and said, “Of course!”  I think we scandalized his family at first, but we’ve done a good job over the last nine years incorporating family traditions and creating some of our own that our dropping the eggnog one is merely winked at by the other relatives. 😉

Fast forward to yesterday. I picked up some eggnog at the store mainly because I was getting a dinner ready for a family from church who had recently welcomed a new son to their family, a son with a name rather associated with Christmas and starts with N. 😉 I thought I’d add some yuletide cheer to their basket, and I also knew it would be futile to get nog and not have some for my crew. I put our bottle in the upstairs fridge and the other one in the downstairs’ one. I had to go down into the garage and secure some boxes that had arrived while I was out lest the kiddos sneak into them, and as I climbed back upstairs I was met at the top by Rascal, who was just finishing a large cup of a rather thick milk-like drink.

“What was THAT?!” He grinned. “It’s GOOD!

I gaped like a fish. I had expected to bring it out for Haus Meister after dinner and then give some to the kids. I hadn’t expected the Refrigerator Raiders to begin work quite so soon.

But now it has begun, and now I pretty much have to lock up the eggnog. “I’m thirsty; can I have some eggnog?” is one of the first things I heard this morning.

“No, it’s a special drink. We have it after dinner.”

Pout.

Good thing it wasn’t the Christian Brothers variety. 😉