Back In The Nest!

It’s wonderful to be home again. Just a week away, just six hours drive away, but with four children, it feels much longer!
To be home in ‘the nest’ again feels good….

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….especially with this inviting morning view from the window.
And after all the unpacking, the washing, and the general tidying up, it’s great to be able to have the whole family at home, with NOTHING to do! ๐Ÿ˜‰
Spending time with the kids, reading, doing new puzzles….

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….helping Leon to build his solar robot, helping Alfie to build his new lego set, and helping Maya to put together her new crafty lamp kit….

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….makes for a perfectly relaxing first day at home! ๐Ÿ’œ

Now We Know ‘Jul Tomten’ Is For Real….

Today Alfie understood that Jul Tomten / Father Christmas / Santa, is ‘for real’.
Why? Because he’s seen him of course!
Where? Right here, in Sweden, in Dalarna, in a little place called Mora, in ‘Tomteland’….

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…there he sat, in his own little post office, reading Christmas lists from children all over the world – yes, ALL OVER! He even had them on his wall ….

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He had a wall full of clocks telling him the time around the world….

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….and a place he hung up his jacket….

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….beautiful decor…

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He allowed Alfie to write a wish list for next year – if he promised to be good….

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Then he went for a walk..

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…..we saw his sleigh…

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…his reindeer…

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….and his little cottage…

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…with his bed…

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….his nightgown…

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…his rocking chair by the fire….

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…the globe that he uses to guide his way…

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….the place where he wraps the presents…

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…and the tree that he puts them round, all ready for next year….

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Oh yes, he’s real alright – we’ve seen him. And his sleigh. And his reindeer.

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It must be true. ๐ŸŽ…

Frozen! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Today was our last day of the ski trip. We decided to go to ‘Trollskogen’ (Troll forest) where we went last year – unbeknown to us how cold it was going to be…..

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…Farmor came with us…first, after the walk from the car, we needed to warm up by the fire…

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Richard attempted to take Leon and Alfie ski-ing in Trollskogen, during which time Farmor, Maya and I attempted to warm up Ted at the snow park…

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…to no avail….after which time Richard reappeared with Alfie….it was just too cold for him to ski. After a warm drink in the cafรฉ, Alfie appeased me with this picture….

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I tried to take a photo of the temperature chart on the cabin, at -17C, but the camera was finding it hard to function….

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Richard, Farmor, Alfie and Ted went home to warm up, while Leon, Maya and I decided to brave the cold, go ahead and ski. We reached the top of the mountain, to which we were awarded a stunning view…at which point, my camera packed in, due to cold!
After a lovely, but cold, ski through the forest, and (another) warm drink in the cafรฉ, the camera was back in action again….

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…and when my loyal husband then picked us up, I awarded myself with my very first ‘selfie’…

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….and some photos of the stunning scenery from the car….

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Beautiful! โ„๏ธ

God Jul!

As is always the case in Sweden, Christmas is celebrated on the 24th, rather than the 25th.
We started ours with a beautiful sunrise around 10am…

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…and while the older ones went ski-ing, the younger ones had fun in the snow…

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After everyone gets dressed up, at 3pm it’s time for the Disney Christmas classics (a Swedish tradition)…

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…before we crept over to our relatives on the other side of the lane…

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Time for dinner…pickled herring in various sauces, egg halves with caviar, boiled potatoes, ham, Christmas sweet breads, followed by more boiled potatoes, meatballs, chipolata sausages, salads, and lastly comes the Christmas porridge with the one almond inside (whoever gets it is predicted to marry in the year).
Then there tends to be a lot of waiting…during which time Maya invited everyone to open her homemade ‘smรคllkaramell’ filled with marshmallow tomtens (Father Christmas’)…

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..and a little game playing…

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…before there was a big bang at the door, and the familiar question of “are there any nice children around here?”…..

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Tomten takes a seat, and starts to hand out gifts….

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Sometimes he needs a little help…

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..and sometimes a little company…

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….before he leaves for other places….and the opening of gifts begins….

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Thank you ‘Jul Tomten’ … ๐ŸŽ…….and Happy Christmas to you all ๐Ÿ™‚

Ski Trip To Sรคlen, Dalarna…

On Sunday we actually did the six hour drive to Sรคlen, in Dalarna, where we are presently, staying in a large ‘flat’ at a ski resort. We are staying in a flat opposite our Swedish relatives – grandma, auntie and uncle, and cousins – whom we shall be celebrating Christmas with – just as we did here last year.
Yesterday was our first full day here, and although it took a while to get ourselves going, with the trying on of ski boots and skis, and the putting on of various winter clothes, Alfie had his first ski lesson of the season (and loved it)….

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…and although Leon and Maya can already ski, they will be taking lessons to extend their skills, of which their first was yesterday – having also done a bit of extra ski-ing with Richard and myself. Here they are, returning to the flat, exhausted…

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…getting sideways up that slope to put those skis away…

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It’s thoroughly beautiful here…here are some quick pics I took while R & I had an hour ski-ing alone while the kids were at their lessons (and farmor had Ted)…

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…and outside our flat ..

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Of course it is completely dark here by 3pm, so we have to keep ourselves busy inside after being in the snow and on the slopes…..
….drawing…

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…sticking…

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…..baking….

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….and sometimes, a little watching too….

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We’re going to be here a week and I hope we’re going to have a great time! ๐Ÿ˜‰

‘Christmas Tree’ Sensory Box

By mixing dried green split peas and dried white beans, this made for a nice ‘Christmas tree’ mix (think evergreen and snow!). I also added some Christmas sequins which added shine and a festive feel – but unfortunately they can’t be seen in the picture as they were hidden underneath…

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I also added a Christmas tree baking tray, and an uncut strip of tinsel – plus scissors…

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…a tall green tin thermos (think of that lovely clanging sound when the dried peas/beans are dropped into it), and lots of tools – a funnel, tongs, measuring cups, a spaghetti scoop and a metal ladle…

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I left it open ended to see what would happen….having the tray near the play kitchen encouraged extra role play….first he used the ladle to scoop the material into the baking tray, to make ‘goulash soup’…

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Later using fingers…and trying the tongs when he spilled (very tricky)…

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The play plates came out for serving…

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…before moving on to scooping the peas/beans through the funnel into the thermos…

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To be fair, we’ve had this sensory tray out for a week or so now, and it’s been very popular and used in many ways. Although the sense of the peas/beans spilling through hands is wonderful, the practise of using different tools is both important and fun for Ted – as well as the role play of course! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Cardboard Gingerbread Creations

The kids in ‘The English Club’ don’t stop to amaze me with their imagination!

I set them a challenge last week – to make the most creative ‘gingerbread’ construction out of cardboard – so, armed with cardboard, and anything else they might need, they started on their mission…

We had three groups – the boys, the horse-lovers (Maya & Ida-Maj), and the traditional one (Hanna).

This was the second week of the challenge, and the week to complete – and complete they did..!

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And so, the completed constructions were…
1) The Traditional Gingerbread House..

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…with pipecleaner and sequin mistletoe over the front door step…

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…and a pipecleaner Christmas tree in the attic….

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….plus decorated sides…

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2) The Castle

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…with turrets, and a pipecleaner drawbridge…

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..plus an inside courtyard with pipecleaner people, cork seats, matchstick stocks and a barrow with wooden wheels….

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Do you see the soldier at the turret with his weapon?

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….and lastly…
3) The Stable

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…with a wooden stick fence, pipecleaner separators between the stalls, sequin mistletoe decor….

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….paper horses…

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…and the use of cut yellow paper and dried spaghetti, for straw/hay….

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Aren’t they fantastic?!
I love each and every one of them! I set it as a competiton, so they’ll be finding out who won after the Christmas break.. ๐Ÿ™‚
We rounded up our English Club end of term, with a dinner, tasting the foods of England… ‘toad in the hole’ (english sausages in pancake batter), baked beans (though I think these might be American, despite the fact they’re a staple element of an english child’s diet!), Christmas pudding, and mince pies! ๐Ÿ˜‰

A Candlelit Walk

School ended yesterday. How did it end? With presents for the teachers? Of course! With the singing of Christmas songs? Of course! With gingerbread snaps and homemade blueberry soup? Of course!
And what else? Well – a candle lit walk through the forest of course!

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Maya’s painted jar lit up beautifully…

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Father Christmas and the angel Gabriel (!) were there to greet you in the forest…

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Alfie and his friend Douglas’ candle sheltering in the cove of a big rock…

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…a row of pretties together…

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..and at the end of the trail a fire pit burned…

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…and the head mistress stood giving out homemade blueberry soup next to a basket of gingerbread snaps…here Maya helps out..and below Alfie stands proudly with his jar…

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Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! ๐ŸŒœ