Monday, December 14

3rd Sunday and St. Lucia

The celebrations roll in like pearls on a string. Sancta Lucia is a normal celebration in Norway, due to our close neighbor Sweden. It is tradition to gather early in the morning, meaning before it gets light at 9.30..., and the oldest children walk through the house bearing lights and a crown, in white frocks and red sashes.

Here they are hanging ready for them to find them in the morning.

I had invited my good friend and her family. The children were a little young, but the tradition and memory for next year is hereby planted, and they were all adorable. Jasmin actually had learnt the song during the course of the last weeks, and Noa and Lea tuned in on the last words in the verse.

Early, the kids and I baked Lussekatter, Lucia buns, in traditional spiral forms, with raisins and saffron.

We lit the third candle and recited our third verse.

The third light of Advent is the light of the beasts.
Light of hope that shines in the greatest and the least.

I had needle felted a little sheep to be put in the great stall Anders had made for the table. My first felted creature at the age of 29. It turned out great though the first thing Lea said was: look- a pig! It had all been a little distressing if Anders had not moved in, felted the snout down and behold- a sheep. The first picture a pig, the next two- a sheep. And the day was perfect again.

Now I will try a donkey. Wish me luck.

Saturday, December 12

Conflict Resolution

I work and study conflict resolution and peace keeping methods. I imerse myself in methods of negotiation and dialogue.
I feel somehow connected to the Buddhistic way and the sense of every daily event a chance for practice.
But still I can surprise my self with irritation. Up close.
In my search for advice, I went to Johan Galtungs book on the topic, which I highly recommend, but in the end I found the teachings of the Buddha had a beautiful verse which serves inspirational and remindful, of the lovely fellow human beings we are surrounded by.

The Skilled Person

Regard the person who sees your faults
as a revealer of treasures.
Associate with that skilled person
as one who is wise, who speaks reprovingly.
Keeping company with such a person,
things get better, not worse.

He should exhort, instruct,
and restrain you from poor behavior.
To the good he is endearing,
to the bad he is unpleasant.

He would not associate with harmful friends.
He would not associate with the lowest of people.
So, you should associate with encouraging friends;
you should associate with the best of people.

He who imbibes the teaching
rests happily, with a clear mind.
The skilled person delights always
in the way revealed by the noble ones.

Irrigators guide the water.
Fletchers shape the arrow shaft.
Carpenters shape wood.
The skilled tame themselves.

As a rock of single solid mass
cannot be moved by the wind,
so are the skilled unshaken
by praise and blame.

As a deep pond, clear, calm,
so do the skilled become serene,
having heard the teachings.

Good people stand apart everywhere.
The good do not initiate conversation
out of desire for enjoyment.
Touched now by pleasure, now by pain,
the skilled do not expose their highs and lows.

Neither for your own nor for anothers sake
should you wish for a son, wealth, or empire.
You should not wish for your own success
if acquired by improper means.
You should be virtuous, wise and honorable.

Few are those among the people
who cross to the other shore.
The rest of humanity just runs about
on the bank right here before us.

But those people who follow the way
when the teaching is well proclaimed
will go to the other shore.
The realm of death is so hard to traverse.

Having left the dark way,
the skilled person should cultivate the bright.
Coming from his home to no home,
in seclusion, where enjoyment is hard to find,
there he should hope for delight.
Having forsaken all desires, possessing nothing,
the skilled person should cleanse himself
of the afflictions of his mind.

Those whose minds are well trained
in the factors of full awakening
who delight, without clinging,
in the renunciation of grasping-
such bright ones, impulses destroyed,
are, in this very world, unbound.

-The Dhammapada (Teachings of the Buddha)

Wednesday, December 9

Baking Day 3

Major Baking Day 3, with my friend Ingunn today. We planned "Pepperkaker" ( ginger bread cookies- the traditional Norwegian Christmas/ Advent to-do) with the kids, and then "Berlinerkranser" Berlin wreaths, and "Chocolate/ coconut cookies". Worked while the twins on both sides slept, drinking Cortados and rolling like crazy.

Recipe as follows. This is an old traditional cookie, from my mom's mom.

Berlin Wreaths:
2 bolied eggs
2 egg yolks
125g suger
300g flour
250g butter (the real thing)
eggwhites for brushing
Suger pearls and/or finely chopped almonds for topping

Norwegian recipe:

2 kokte eggeplommer
2 rå eggeplommer
125 gr. sukker
300 gr. hvetemel
250 gr. smør
Eggehviter til pensling

I stekeovnen: 175 grader i 10 minutter

Kok eggene i 8 minutter. Gni ut de kokte eggeplommene, bland inn de rå. Visp egg og sukker godt. Tilsett hvetemel og mykt smør vekselvis. (NB! Smøret må ikke smeltes.) Avkjøl deigen. Trill tynne pølser og form små kranser. Pensle med eggehvite og dypp i perlesukker. For å få riktig fin fasong på kransene, kan en avkjøle dem godt før en pensler og dypper. Deigen er ganske myk, så kjøkkenet må ikke være for varmt under baksten.

Well, two sorts down, 5 to go...


We love hot air balloons, ordered from China through e-bay.
And we send up every chance we get.
Every week.

Monday, December 7

Julie and Julia

We recieved an amazing book for our wedding from my familiy in 2002. "The Art of French Cooking", written for the American Kitchen by three woman, including the great Julia Child. I have not used it as much as I would have liked to, apart from baking whole chickens, quiches and of course vanilla sauce. But Anders, being the chef he is, loved it. After the fire, it is the only thing he really misses, and cannot find. He wants in Norwegian, like we had before, but it seems like it has gone out of print or something. If anyone has any advice, please let us now.
We saw the movie "Julie and Julia" last night. Amazing film. I recommend it Not so often one feels so good and are so hungry after a movie! And Meryl Streep is fabulous.

Sunday, December 6

St.Nick and Early morning Light

Sunrise and the morning moon.

The second light of Advent
is the light of the Plants.
Plants that reach up to the sun,
and in the breezes dance.

The Fartøyvernsenterets annual Christmas Workshop was Sunday, so Anders left early to work preparing little boats for the Litlle Boat Workshop post. We all went in the afternoon. It's a great event, gingbread cookie making, wax candle rolling, blacksmith work, music and song in the Mongolian tent, and of course little boats.

Lea sanding her own boat on the bench

Anders teaching Noa how to drill.

Dear old man St.Nikolas Dear
Come to my house this year.
Please put something in my shoe,
for I've been good the whole year through!

The morning began with throwing open the front door to find three little boots filled with a gift, and a basket of honey stars, oranges and nuts. And lo and behold!, St. Nickolas' horse had eaten ALL the hay! We have an Advent Calender with little windows one opens, from my mom. Amazingly enough, because it is German I guess, todays picture was St.Nick. We waited until 9.30, when it got light, to go on a little picnic up to where the creek is, and eat our honeycakes, and clementines. (Which I have been thinking were mandarines all these years, but are apparently not.)

What was left of our St. Nikolas picnic.

Jasmin's little Cecilia taking a rest in the grass.

While the twins slept, we prepared our own St.Nick basket to leave at Luca's front door.

The honey cakes and oatmeal/ raison cookies were arranged and the card made. Unfortunately our plan to leave it at the door and hide backfired. Both his mother and him did not see it. So after giggling with all the three kids, crouching behind the house in the dark and howling wind, we decided to knock again and invite ourselves in for tea.

Wednesday, December 2

Advent Sunday

The first light of Advent is the light of the stones.
Lights you find in seashells, crystals and bones.

Advent is upon us. And it is wonderful. I am really enjoying sharing the rituals and stories and meanings with Jasmin this year. Four years old is a pretty smart cookie. And I feel, despite being not Christian at all, that I can incorporate the meanings of rituals and the magic into our lives, and enrich it. It all feels attuned to the life style we lead already, the importance of rhythm and stability, breathing in- breathing out. And creating that mood, that mood of happiness.

We baked Danish "Kleiner", made Rice-Cream and cherry Berries, we invited our good friends Ingunn and Family to walk the Advent Spiral outside with lanterns in apples. It was a good day.
We are reading "Oles Skitur" often. And the Uncle Frost has been here everyynight now, leaving a thin layer of whiteness.

The days continue along the norm. Anders cut his leg quite bad at work this Monday, which just so happened to be his birthday. 6 stitches and a few days at home has been fabulous for us. He has been putting together christmas cards to send out. Beautiful.

"Before enlightenment- chop wood, carry water.
After enlightenment- chop wood, carry water."

Friday, November 27

Advent Inspiration

My mom and the twins reading last weekend.

The coming of the Christmas season has really sparked and spurred the Waldorf approach. Being all about festivals, working with children this way is gratifying, for myself as well. We are going to be home this Christmas, for the first time. And this opens endless possibilities in how we present this festival to our children, as well as to ourselves, as adults.
I am really working towards the home-made version. The stories are emerging, the work with preparing the Nature Table for this coming Sunday, the work with the celebrating Advent as a whole, and how to give gifts that are both ethically and esthetically beautiful to each other. I am using the Winter inspiration book from the KIndergarden package I have from Live Education.
Right now, I am so grateful that we have the resources and possibilities for me to stay home with the children, that we are safe and happy in a warm home, and that this wonderful season is upon us.

Today I plan on finishing the Advent Wreath, which is a common tradition in Norway. With four candles. The Nature Table is getting more and more barren, the little animals have all gone underground. Sunday, the star will appear, and the Nature Garden. One creates a moss garden and everyday one adds something to the garden according the week at hand. The first being mineral (rocks, crystals) the second plant, the third animal, and the last is for the human aspect. Thus the nativity scene will be complete.

Yesterday we did large scale cookie baking. Gingerbread cookies and my grandma traditional chess-squares. Pics to come, just got a wonderful camera in the mail from my dear dad, who is lending it to us til we get our own. Excited.

Tuesday, November 24

Crafty Weekend

First off, I cannot believe I now have two 2-year olds!!! We had an amazing day, singing and playing. I finished the crowns on time, and we made apples of wool for the Christmas tree as well. A great day! "Bestemor"- Grandma and Uncle Johannes were down for the weekend and there was much rejoicing. I became second best after approximately 4 seconds. Makes me so sad that we live so far apart. Anders took the opportunity with extra help in the house to work on insurance papers and we arranged a birthday party involving organic wholesome carrot cake WITH cream cheese frosting, whole wheat pizza, and 10 little ones running around ( and almost twice as many adults- that's a lot of espresso to make!) Short and sweet festivities. We concluded with going out in the dark at 5pm, and sending off (simultaneously) 6 chinese lanterns. No pictures from that yet, but hope to get some from a friend. It was magical and amazing.
All in all, the weekend flew by, I have recovered from my sleep deprivation thanks to "Bestemor" getting up at the crack of dawn and we are back on track for Advent preparations.

The orange one with the Autumn applications was initially for Lea, but when they received them, Lea ONLY wanted "Good Night Moon" and Noa couldn't care less. So I had to do a complete mental turn around. I guess one makes the map according to the terrain, not opposite.
Especially happy with the elastic back, no sewing machine required!

Thursday, November 19

Birthday Preparations

This is actually a WIP Wednesday post, today. A Work In Progress. Which I have been really wanting to get started with, but have been preoccupied. Now, the twins birthday this weekend, and two crowns must be made.
I am using the wonderful crown tutorial from the wonderful blog Frontier Dreams. She has a super simple idea to make these wonderful felt crowns. Am working on the applications now, which is lovely work. I have never been much of a crafter, and it is SO relaxing to do this sort of handcraft. Almost meditative. The woolen felt my mom sent down, and am using regular cotton embroidery thread.

Noa's colors and inspirational book. He loves cows, moons and stars.

Lea is alive and active, I had to go for a happy color, and her inspiration is squirrels, nuts and leaves. I know that November is over us, the sky is grey, and I can see about 4 leaves on the oak tree, but Lea's heart has been in this season for so long. She'll be happy I hope.

More to come. Back to work. Picture quality could be better. These semi automatic are difficult I find. We have decided to wait to next summer till we replace our CanonD40, possibly with the D50. But this one is great for kids, the Olympus Tough. Shock Proof 2m and WaterProof 10m!!!

Thursday, November 12

Happy Martinsmas

As if the beautiful days do not pass quickly enough, 2 kids have been down for the count and I am a little sick as well, a mild cold, or as Anders says "the kids are getting pig ears..."

Well, despite that, we made lanterns and have baked, and have told the story of St. Martin over and over again. Been speaking about being kind and generous to each-other, doing a lot of coloring, as I have yet to receive wet-on-wet paints in the mail from my mom.

"I walk with my lantern, my lantern, myself and I.
Up yonder bright little stars shine, down here we're stars to the sky.
The new moon shines, the cat meows.
We walk with our little lanterns.
Our lanterns so shiiny bright.
We wonder through the darkness, with twinkling light
Like stars that swing, our lanterns we bring."

Autumn is on the brink. Lea's last efforts to feed the squirrel result in mounds of oak nuts.

Sweet potato and selleri soup, pureed and eaten outside with sunflower seed sprinkles.

Hope you all had a peaceful day, and have lit many candles, as the days get darker.

Friday, November 6

1.November Flashback

Fire in the garden. Dinner
Lea and our pumpkin, and the pumpkin muffins.
Our coconut bird feeder, we hung out last weekend.

Swimming in the morning.

Thursday, November 5

Early Morning Baking

6am baking with daddy. Lea doing all the work, Jasmin is dealing out coconut flakes. Mmmmm... They are making Danish Tebirkes, "birkes" is poppy seeds. Not much else to do when it doesn't really get light till 8am. And still 6 weeks till the sun comes back... But the days are beautiful, clear and crisp, -3 degrees in the mornings.

Baking has become a common activity now, with the two little ones actually going into the cupboard, finding the bowls and getting ready at the counter. "NOW, lets bake!" The new kitchen has the ingenious island-counter where we can work on one side, the kids on the other. Real team work, no matter the business. Making lasagna, cutting vegetables, baking, stirring, arranging on platters, they are with me all the way, and I still have control over the situation.

Wednesday, November 4

Daily Rhythms

We have been really trying to stay at home these past few weeks. TO get to know the house, to show the children THIS is where we live, and to MOVE in. It really worked. The days spent here and in the surrounding woods are all one needs.
The day flies by in a constant repetitive safe rhythm, revolving around, breathing in, breathing out, meals and rest times, walks and outside time. It is so satisfying to experience the magic of everyday life, of how simple it can be with children. The simpler, the better.

The days for us start early. Due to the time change a few weeks ago, they all are awake and hungry at 5.30am, and I do my best to keep them sleepy until 6am. Despite the dark (until8am) it is quite cosy. The downside is I get NO time to get myself ready for the day. We eat our porridge by candle light. Our meal verse, the same one we use for all the meals:

Jorden har oss brødet givet,
solen har oss sjenket livet.
Kjære sol, kjære jord,
takken i vårt hjerte bor. (in Danish, from a wonderful Danish Waldorf Kindergarden Teacher.)

Thanking the earth and the sun for the bread.
Will try to find the English equivalent.

Clean up and playing around until I have had my coffee.

During the week, Anders leaves at latest 7am, and we start trying to do some circle games, this periods songs and verses and the story I am telling at the time.
Laundry, washing and brushing hair and such come in-between.
Snack time at around 8.30, since we ate so early.
Then we go outside. Which logistically takes 20 minutes in dressing, and surprise diaper changes and Noa's emptying out the wooden blocks, again.

Walks down the small tractor roads here, using the rope swing some bigger kids made, inspecting sheep pooh, jumping in the creek, picking sticks and leaves for the nature table and nuts, not to forget oak nuts, everywhere. Here I try to collect things for any craft idea I have coming up...

lunch 1, is at 11.30. This is a good sort of snack, warm, and then off Noa and Lea go to sleep, for about an hour and a half.
The days I have Jasmin here with me, we do crafts, painting, washing floors and activities I deem near impossible with two one-year olds running around.
We also rest, read a book, and the only way for me to get a rest too, is too rub her back and relax together.

We have fruit and muesli at 2pm, lunch 2. Repeat songs, do housework they all can help with, and go out again till it is time for making dinner and bathing.
An early start gives a well loved definite 7 o'clock bedtime, without any fuss. Wonderful.

"Bless my pillow,
bless my bed,
bless me too from toes to head.
Bless the earth, the sun, the air.
Bless the children everywhere."

This blessing is just enough ritual and beauty for me, without becoming religious.
Courtesy of Little Acorn Learning.

Then it is time to clean up....

Tuesday, November 3

recovered photos

A miracle! We have received the entire content of both hard drives on our laptops, that were in the fire. It is amazing. I hadn't really shed a tear, thinking all the pictures were gone, and nothing to do about it. Now that I am sitting here, browsing through the thousands of photos, I cannot believe they were almost lost to eternity! Quick shots of Lea using the apple peeler, and the Nature Table I intended to post, before. And Jasmins handy work.