Sunday, 30 December 2012

Christmas 2012

Well, Christmas started prior to our trip to Finland, with us decorating our tree.  Sophie was the main helper, who kep trying to look at me taking a picture of her as well as looking at what she was putting on the tree, hence the funny stance.  She then wanted to take a photo of me too, which I'm rather pleased with.
On our return from Lapland, we had Sophie's nativity play, where she was a sheep.  She has been singing the songs for the  last couple of months, and seemed to enjoy doing the performance, even if her interest did seem to wane after a while!!

 We had done very little in our own traditions for Christmas, mainly due to my busy-ness with orders, but also with concentrating on going away mid December.  Alec mentioned how he missed the advent candle and stories, so we'll definitely do those next year, but once school broke up we were able to do a few activities.  I had spotted these Star Wars snowflakes last year, and thought it would be a good idea to do.  It was still rather fiddly for the children, although Ethan stuck with his Rebel fighter snowflake (the first on the right) and just needed a bit of help with a craft knife towards the end.  I ended up doing the other two, but have printed out more, either for later or next year!
 Ethan was getting festive with a santa hat!!
 We made a gingerbread house (eventually), and Luke had a good idea about melting boiled sweets to glaze the windows.  We managed a couple of windows like this.
 Since then the boys have been discussing how to dismantle the gingerbread house.  It has ranged from putting party poppers inside and blowing it up, to building a lego mindstorms battering ram, to playing catch with it!!
 Christmas eve saw us go to see the hobbit.  What an amazing film, and Sophie was rather taken with it too, and has been watching other LOTR films and trailers on the computer!
 Christmas Day itself saw Mum join us (having stayed overnight on Christmas Eve).  It was a very stress free day, and everyone seemed to have a lovely day.
 There was time to play with Christmas presents (an electirc guitar you can plug into the iPad, for Alec)
 Some wargamer modelling for both Stuart and Luke,
There was the statutory lego building, chocolate eating, for the children and I even managed to do some knitting for myself. 

A lovely Christmas, and looking forward to what the new year brings.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012


I apologise in advance for the number of photos, and the lack of light (that's how it is 200 miles north of the arctic circle).  So last week, we all got on a flight from Manchester to Kittala, Finland.  When we landed at 2pm it was -11 degrees Centigrade and it was approaching dusk.  We waited to get our snow gear, and took in the amazing scenery of this winter wonderland.

 Even the trees at the airport looked amazing!
 After settling in, we had an early start the following day to have taster sessions with reindeer, huskies, snowmobiles, toboggans and an artic circle ceremony.
 All six of us fitted on a sled pulled by 6 huskies.  Sophie was at the front, and thought it was brilliant!
 After we had our taster session we went to the information office, and asked if there were any husky expeditions for the six of us.  We got booked on a husky ride leaving in 20 minutes.  So off we went, on a 10km husky sled ride, over frozen lakes, through nordic woodland, with only the sound of the huskies panting breaking the frozen silence.  Stuart had one sled, and I drove the other sled, although we stopped half way around and Luke drove the rest of the way. 
 We didn't see any other husky sleds, only the snowmobile of one of the owners occasionally coming into view as he kept an eye on us.  We just had to trust that the huskies knew where they were going, and sure enough they brought us back to the starting point.  Sophie loved it (her first time on a proper husky ride), and especially like the big humps we went over!!
 On our return we were led to a little cabin with a wood fire in the centre, where we could cook sausages over the flames, and drink warm juice and cinammon biscuits.  Just what we needed after the cold od out doors (although by then it was only -6 degrees)
 To finish the trip, we met an 8 week old husky pup.  He was so soft!!
 On our return to the information centre, we decided to book a snowmobile safari for that evening.  The hope was to see the aurora borealis, but it was too busy snowing!!

So after tea, we went and got kitted out with helmets and balaclavas.

 The younger three went in trailers behind the two skiddoos, whilst Luke rode pillion with Stuart.  It was amazing going over frozen lakes, frozen rivers and through forests by night.  Although it took me a good while to get to grips with driving the snowmobile at the same speed as everyone else, they had to keep stopping and waiting for me to catch up.  In my defence, it was very unnerving as the snowmobile lurched when it hit a bump or a slightly slippier patch.  But it was amazing seeing the glitter of the snow in the headlights of the snowmobile, and seeing these snowy shapes looming out of the darkness, one could quite imagine snowmonsters in the Calvin and Hobbes style patrolling the forests. 

Half way around we stopped at a tippee, and had hot chocolate and cinammon rolls.  The children were getting a little cold at that point, even though the trailers were covered and they had reindeer skins and blankets to keep themselves warm.  Despite the bumps Sophie had managed to fall asleep!  The owner of the tour was building an igloo just around the corner, which we went to look at too.  Then we made our way home to bed, thrilled and exhausted with what we had managed to fit into one single day!
 The following day we went in search of Santa.  We decorated biscuits in the bakery..
 ...learned our elfabet at elf school...
 ...took some artistic, Christmassy shots...

 ...helped make some toys...

 ...and briefly saw the man in red!
We never tired of the views of snowy forests, it really was magical.

 On our return to the hotel, we went to see if we could book some snowboarding lessons, unfortunately we missed the last slot, so we went to find a toboganning slope instead.  On the way we discovered a little craft fair, each stall holder having a little hut, with heating!  It looked very Christmassy, and I might have bought some pencil roving from a finnish sheep!
 We found the tobogganing slope, with rope pully to pull you back up the slope.  It was all free, the sledges were fantastic, and we marvelled that such a thing could exist, as you just know that if it were in England it would have been vandalised and all the sledges taken!
 There were some snowball fights, and that little hut in the background was where you could go to warm up, again with wood fire in the centre, warm juice in the blackened kettles over the fire, and clean mugs hanging on the walls.  Benches covered with reindeer skins were around the fires, and it lit solely by the fire a few fairy lights.  So lovely and peaceful, and warm!!
 We returned to the hotel for a gala feast in the evening, and a meeting with Santa where we all got presents.
 And then it was over.  The following day we had to make our way to a very icy airport, and make our way back to England.  None of us were particularly enthusiastic to return so soon!
 We followed the sunset home,
 although for much of the way there was alot of sleep to catch up on.
Moi moi Suomi.  Kiitos.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Passing it on

It gives me such a sense of satisfaction when the children show and interest in what I am doing when I'm sat down crafting.  Ethan and Sophie show the most interest, and when I am spinning or sewing, Sophie will often come and sit on my lap and want to join in.  With spinning, she hasn't quite got it yet, but will pretend to draft the wool as I spin, and she enjoys the wool slipping through her fingers. 

With sewing she finds this a little easier.  She has, with help, been doing some blanket stitch on some of the Christmas bunting I have been making recently.  I have a wonderful image in my head of her sat on my lap a month or so ago, as I was embroidering the word "Friendship" onto a blessing bunting flag, and she was sat on my lap helping to pull the needle through.  It just summed up everything about that moment. 

Ethan has shown some interest in sewing, in fact will try to identify the stitch I am making at any one time.  And when they were sewing on buttons in class a few weeks ago (learning about "make do and mend" in the second world war) he ended up going around the class helping others!!  However, for him, knitting has been his proudest moment.  His first completed scarf using some of that frilly scarf yarn.  I thought he mighht give it to his teacher as a Christmas present, but instead he decided to put it in an Operation Christmas Child shoe box.  So he now has his first knitted item in another country.  Such an amazing gesture. 

I would love to think of them expanding their crafting, but only time will tell.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Well, hello again

I do hope you have managed to find me here.  I have moved blogs only so that I can continue blogging without being forced to pay a monthly subscription to upload photographs.  I figured, anyone who is interested in the comings and goings in our lives will follow us over here. So come join me and my family and see what we get up to.