Yarn Along & Recap so far….

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The afternoon sun is out for a moment in between showers of rain.  It’s not very wintry here.  My aunt just posted a picture of snow in Indiana on Instagram, and here I am in the South posting pictures of daffodils.

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Don’t get me wrong; I do wish we had one more good snow before Spring begins in earnest. I wish we hadn’t already had mosquito bites in January.  Overall, though, I’m not complaining because I don’t have to try to drive in the snow. 🙂  If we get more than an inch, none of us go anywhere and we just enjoy the stuff and pray the power stays on. 🙂  Otherwise Haus Meister has to pull the Charles Ingalls routine and chop wood for our wood stove.  I do remember the night he was out at 2am restocking the woodpile because the power had gone down.  How homestead-erish it made me feel!  Ironically, true homesteaders would have had all their wood chopped and near at hand already.  But I digress.

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I finished Haus Meister’s socks/slippers before Candlemas so at least it was technically still in Christmastide. 🙂  I need to work on stitching soles onto slippers but he tells me they are quite comfortable.  I have some yarn I’m going to use for socks for me using the same pattern but without the leather soles.  I enjoyed the pattern a lot.

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My first official project of 2017 ended up being the Antler Toque.  I’m stash busting some Istex Alafosslopi in blue tweed.  Since the dusting of snow around Epiphany reminded me that we are woefully undersupplied in the hats and mittens department, I thought to keep happy doing small quick projects that help me use the yarn on hand.

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This picture was taken last week before I began the cables on the hat.  These are my reads for February.  The Brothers Karamazov is what my sister and I chose to fill the “book of over 600 pages” for our Modern Mrs. Darcy 2017 reading challenge.  Some chapters were hard to slog through without Russian v0dka, I’m sure (I didn’t try), but about halfway through I just couldn’t put it down.  Haus Meister kept teasing me about binge-reading, but I was.  I just was.  And then it ended.

Dostoyevsky, if we meet in the hereafter, you must tell me how you were going to wrap up the loose threads at the end of your story. Yes, I do insist there are loose threads at the end of a 718 page novel! The only explanation I can find is that the author was a few months from his own death, but he left one character on the verge of death, and I’d kind of like to know what happened to him.  And two of the others as well! Whom does Alexey marry eventually? What becomes of him?  And Dmitri? Does his plan succeed?  It was the nearest I have come to throwing a book against a wall in a long time–I merely banged the book against my knees. How could it be over at that point?!?!?!  I did actually throw Tess of the D’Ubervilles because it was (in my humble opinion) just awful.  This time, I had come to the end of 718 pages and I wanted a quick epilogue, at least. Note: since writing the above I have learned some editions do have an epilogue; I just happened through frugality to have purchased the one that didn’t. Heh.

Suffice to say, it was a good book.  I’m going over it again, a little more slowly, to see if I missed any clues now that I know how it ends.  Besides, February isn’t over yet.

Different is also a nice book, and definitely not in the same genre as Brothers K, so it’s rather amusing to see them pictured together.  It’s non-fiction and encouraging, like a warm cup of tea from a friend who has been there raising a high needs child.  I have been taking this book slow, reading a chapter every few days, so I’m not finished yet.

In other news….

Happy girls.

Happy boys.  At the end of January, the lads went to Dallas as the support team for Trooper who was due for a trip to his CP specialist.  They had a fabulous time visiting cousins, climbing trees, watching trucks (that’d be Trooper), and seeing the Frontiers of Flight Museum.  Trooper is standing in front of the Apollo 7 capsule.

Trooper is going to be getting new ankle braces soon.  He has totally outgrown his last pair. This guy is growing like a weed!

I’m having fun with a new teapot and new candles, except that one on the right didn’t look as nice once the label was off. It looked like a soft-boiled egg with a wick in the middle. So why did I take a picture of it?  Because I wanted to prove to anyone who heard me vent about it (my mom and sister, mainly), that it looked like a soft-boiled egg.

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This handsome fellow (picture taken by Sunshine), has been busy with more painting.  He did the kitchen, upper half of the basement, and is going to do the classroom in Lowe’s Historic Collection Antique Filoli Lace (which I mention in case I forget and need to look for it again).  The hallway, foyer, and upper living room is rapidly becoming Woodlawn Colonial Gray (from the same collection).

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Better picture forthcoming; this was all I had on my phone.

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As the laundry room was never entirely finished last year, I made up for lost time while the guys were in Dallas and painted the whole in “Craft White.”  It looks so fresh and warm in there now.  These doldrum months between Christmas and Spring is the perfect time to renew the home.  In our case, that usually involves painting, but there it is.

Well, all for now.  Have a great week!

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Remember the days when the messages were embossed on the hearts, and you didn’t have to use Google to know what they said?

 

Yarn Along, Goal met, Books, and links

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Bedside table, Ordinary Time edition.  The curtain was drawn because Rosebud was napping.  There usually is a matching teacup on the saucer, but I used it this morning for my coffee. 🙂

As you may or may not be able to see, I am working through the gusset of Haus Meister’s last slipper sock.  The end is in sight!  After this, I am cancelling my Facebook proclaimed first 2017 Knitting Project of a sweater jacket.  The weather is absurdly warm here, and not at all conducive to wool jacket knitting. 😦  I may go on to another pair of socks. I may knit up a bunch of hats and mittens because the recent snow scare over Epiphany (it was less than 1″) proved to me that we are woefully underprepared for actual winter weather here.  Too many mild winters.  Also, I guess I’m just still in stash-bust-short-project mode, and friends, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Reading-wise, no huge novels this week.  I haven’t even gone back through Wuthering Heights lately! I have been reading a lot of other things, though.  Dino received a copy of The Green Ember for his 10th birthday last week.  I read it all to myself in about three hours and then began reading the first four chapters out loud to the oldest kids.  It’s a good book!  Everyone is listening to me read aloud from Little House in the Big Woods during our lunch hour every day.  In the van, on drives this month, we’re enjoying Paddington Helps Out on Audible.  For my own enjoyment, I’ve been reading old Jan/Feb issues of Victoria and my current issues both of Victoria and The English Home.  January is always a good month to go back and rehash my goals for the home, especially as we put Christmas away, albeit very piecemeal. So out again comes Sally & Sarah Clarkson’s The Life Giving Home.

Another huge book and home related goal was met this week.  I indulged myself in a personal birthday present of an ebook of a year’s worth of meal plans and menus based on the Trim Healthy Mama plan.  I’ve been following that plan more or less since last July, although I haven’t made Haus Meister and the kids live without sugar. However, 95% of our family dinners are made with THM compliant recipes, and none of us have suffered. As Haus Meister said, “a diet that allows bacon is one I can live with!”  I found as the months progressed toward the end of 2016 that while I used the THM cookbook so much that it fell to pieces and I had to order a second, I also had an inordinant amount of printed-off recipes and way too many saved on my phone.  At last I completed a goal I have wanted to accomplish for years. I printed out that ebook and used it to organize my recipe binder.

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The only loose paper there is the pudding bowl full of Christmas cards, as we continue a tradition of Haus Meister’s family by picking a card from the bowl and praying for the sender every evening at dinner.  The “Recipe Traditions” binder does have some old family recipes in it and favorite old cards from recipe books past. But no loose papers, no random prints.  Everything goes in it straight away, and while I still check recipes on my phone, if it is voted a keeper, I will take the time to write it out, or if I have to print it, it will go straight to the binder.  After about eleven years of recipe paper clutter, it is nice to declare independence!

Yarn Along & First Book of 2017

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On my bedside table this 11th Day of Christmas…

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Like my knitting nutcracker-style figure? My mom found her for me.  And there’s my current project!  I am making better progress with this second sock than the first, but last night I didn’t knit a thing being utterly absorbed in my first read of 2017.

Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte.

I cannot recommend this edition highly enough.  The introduction was refreshing and the annotations/footnotes actually do a great deal toward explaining ambiguous areas of the text (for instance, it translates Bronte’s example of the character Joseph’s broad Yorkshire into something Americans can understand).

Now here’s a revelation: I hadn’t touched WH in about twenty years, and I hated it the last time I read it.

The first time I read WH was in middle school.  I distinctly remember reading Catherine’s impassioned speech to Nelly while on the  bus ride home from the junior high school, and re-underlining in bright turquoise pen the sentences that a previous reader–possibly an aunt–had underlined in pencil another twenty years before me.  The thing is, I didn’t quite get then why this was supposed to be one of the greatest love story of all time, as the cover proclaimed, and yet here was Catherine saying in one breath that she and Heathcliff were one soul, yet she couldn’t degrade herself to marry beneath her station.  Whyever not?  Oh, and then he runs off and after waiting three years she marries the eligible neighbor. Heathcliff then comes back, and not long after Catherine dies and everything goes bad and bad and very bad until Heathcliff dies too.  Greatest… love story?

I finished the book, still confused.

I picked up the book again in high school and read it cover to cover in a day. My doubts were still there. By then I had read Jane Eyre by Emily’s sister Charlotte, and decided that as a love story it at least was slightly more satisfying.  I mean, Mr. Rochester kept an insane wife locked up (very bad).  But then the wife perished in a house fire (and he did attempt to save her), so then Jane could marry him (um…good?).  And at least then they could live happily ever after and he did begin to recover sight in one eye after being horribly mangled in said fire. So despite all that, the book did end happily for our heroine and, um, hero(?)!

But Heathcliff and Catherine and their great… love?

I admit when my sister suggested we read this book and discuss together, I thought back to my earlier read of the book and did a little “do we hafta” kind of whine.  But I went along with her because I wanted to have bargaining power in case she wanted to veto my suggestion of Chesterton’s Fr. Brown Mysteries later this year. Also, I knew she’d make me laugh with her own take on passages of it.  So I dug into my book change and sent off for this edition of WH you see pictured.  I have the Mansfield Park edition of that series and also enjoyed the respect the editors give to both text and author.

As soon as I read a few pages of the introduction, I realized my error.

This book was not written to be the greatest love story of all time!

It is, rather, a great example of the evils of selfishness.  In fact, the presumed hero and heroine are both so abysmally selfish, so totally unconcerned with anything beyond their own gratification, that unless you think LOVE is “getting my way all the time and the rest of you just deal with it,” you will be disappointed if you expect a happy ending (unless you count the two at the end.  That Hareton got what he deserved in the best sense was always a satisfaction).

So some mental notes I made to bring up with my sister over the next phone call went something like: “Heathcliff = Pride Goeth Before a Fall, and you might just create a living Hell for everyone in your wake.” or “The greatest sadistic revenge plot aside from The Count of Monte Cristo.”

and

“Catherine = You can’t have your cake and eat it too, but you’re going to self-destruct in the attempt and blame it on everyone but yourself.”

and

“Isabella = you’re going to elope with the dark Byronic gentleman next door, and when he comes to pick you up he decides to hang your dog.  How do you think this is going to work out for you?”

Charlotte Bronte once (in)famously said that she would hardly like to live with Jane Austen’s characters.   I took serious umbrage to that in high school, when I first read all of Austen’s novels with interest.  I thought of the unpleasant home Heathcliff made for himself and everyone else, and at the time I fired back to my volume of Jane Eyre that there wasn’t a chance I’d choose to spend time with any Bronte character.

I see now that isn’t entirely true.  I’d love to sit at a cosy fire with Mr. Lockwood and Nelly Dean and listen to her gossip while she sews.

At Year’s End

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Merry Christmas!

(I can still say that; it’s the 6th day of Christmas)

and Happy New Year soon!

I know 2016 has gotten a bad reputation lately. Ok, it’s been blamed for everything from the weather, to celebrity deaths, to the presidential election.  As if a calendar is really responsible for circumstances, or specifically, how we humans deal with circumstances. Admittedly, back during our long drought and heat wave I was looking forward to 2017 but that’s because we get Winter here from January-early March. 😉

I also realize I was pretty quiet here on the blog. I suppose most of it was the plain busy-ness of our life. I suppose also because it seemed that everything online was about politics. I felt like chiming in, but then I didn’t.  There was so much shouting, so much disrespect, so much MUCHNESS about it all, and the idea of adding anything to it did not appeal. But in abstaining from blogging I forgot the reason I do so….

It’s to share a little of our light with you.

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And if we all snuffed our light because we were afraid of being scorched by others, how can we hope to bring some joy into a world that has had quite enough of all that isn’t?

My aim with this blog is to share the joys and realities of our crazy cosy chaotic family, and to make you laugh while doing so. If I succeed, I am content.

So, without further ado, here’s the sum of 2016 and what you can expect from 2017 here at the Haus.

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Princess Rosebud would like you to know that she has to endure six more of these photo shoots.

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There will be LEGO

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There will be Star Wars (and SW jokes)

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There will be homeschooling! (You got to love fine motor practice. Meanwhile, they balk at the end of Christmas break fast approaching. If you listen hard tomorrow night you’ll probably hear the collective groan).

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There will be knitting! Especially since I’m about 3″ into that second slipper sock!

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There will be books! My sister and I made up a reading challenge together based on one at the 2017 Modern Mrs. Darcy site.  Stay tuned for more on that.

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There will be boats.  There will be fun.  There will be a vacation.

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There will be laughter.

There will also be a time when I can keep that workstation cleared off!

Maybe.

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So in this coming “month of hope and new beginnings,” I wish you again a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 See you in January, 2o17, dear readers.

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Oh, what, you didn’t know Tupperware was the latest fashion trend? Well, around here, according to Little Bit, is definitely is.  She raids my Tupperware drawer and keeps clapping one on her head and passing others out to whomever is near.  Yes, she expects you to wear them. One night I was clearing up dinner and suddenly up she pops with a tupperware container.  It happened to be precisely what I needed at the moment so with an absent “Thank you” I began schlopping the soup into container.  Schlopping is a very descriptive word.  Anyway, my attention is grabbed by a heartbroken “Awwwww!” and I turned to see her shuffling off with her tupperware hat on, head bowed, looking for all the world like a pouting Ewok. Ewoks pout, I’m sure.  So, I make a point to wear the hat when it’s offered.

And yes, I do wash them after wearing. 😉

Yarn Along — A knitting buddy?

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Gratuitous baby picture to start this post!

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She’s at long last filling out those booties I knit her this summer!  She’s in them as often as I can find both of the pair!

I’m at that stage of Christmas preparations where despite my early shopping and all my early plans, I still feel a week behind and like there’s a thick fog between me and Christmas with zero hope of accomplishing anything.  I’m still on the first of Haus Meister’s two socks. I’m still wrapping presents.  I’m on the “G” page in our address book for Christmas cards.  The jam hasn’t been made, and the cookies are still in potential (I have the ingredients, but haven’t put it all together).

And then Miss M, chatting to me while coming home from errands tonight, whines that Christmas is taking soooooo looooong to get here. I could use another week of prep, myself. 😉

I say this to dispel the notion that I have it all together. But let’s talk yarn now.

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I took this picture last week for a Yarn Along post that never got written.  I’m about ten rows further on that sock, mainly because little hands got at it and took out the needles about twice a day. The little stockings are two of the four ornament stockings I did finish and will have in four of my children’s St. Nicholas stockings in Dec. 2017.  I am putting a note in my August 2017 planner to start the other five that very month.  Maybe I will put it back until July. That sounds reasonable. See–positive thinking.  I’m not late for 2016 but ahead for 2017!  Right, I don’t buy it either, but it sounds good! 🙂

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Now that bright variegated ball of yarn?  That belongs to our Princess!  Princess came across this book on her shelves and decided she really wanted to learn to knit.  So when we had our visit from St. Nicholas, there was a ball of yarn in her stocking as well as her very very very own first pair of circular needles and stitch markers! She did recognize the yarn as a ball we had dyed using KoolAid something like two years ago, but she didn’t mind and was thrilled with the gift.

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She wanted me to help her start this project that very morning, so we did.  A week later, she’s still excited about it, and still knitting!  She has her own little workbag, made by her Grandma out of fabric that has adorable geese on it.  So she totes her work around, upstairs, downstairs, to Grandma’s house, etc. Grandma and I have both helped with “damage control,” and the little hat definitely has an endearingly lopsided appearance under Princess’ nimble little fingers.  I’m pretty sure she accidentally taught herself short rows at one point and reverse stockinette in another, but for the most part she’s getting the hang of it.

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At this point, and so early in her knitting career, I didn’t have it in me to make her take out all the stitches and redo those spots.  She has ambitions for this hat and a deadline to meet, and I didn’t want to dampen her enthusiasm. I might be stricter with the next project, but at the moment I’m waiting to see if there will be a next project.  I’d love to have a knitting buddy!

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Here’s the book that has been my mainstay this Advent.  I am going to miss this devotional.  I want something like it for every day of the year!  On top of it is a fun mug I received from one of the mothers in our American Heritage Girl Troop (we had a Christmas party and sock gift exchange for the leaders and parent volunteers).  She even made me a darling Swedish Goat felt ornament, because as with every Advent I’m still checking on this guy:

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A little smaller this year, as the usual huge Goat was burned down on the first Sunday of Advent.

So, anyway, up there’s my devotional, my coffee mug, and my husband’s Christmas present.  Because as I said before, it’s God, my husband, and coffee that gets me through.

And knitting.

((And yes, mom, being able to call/text my mom and sister, but a phone would really have not looked good in that picture. ;)))

THIS IS BIG.

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We’ve hit a milestone, dear reader.

Now I should warn you, that in my extended family we have a habit for good or ill of quoting from movies we’ve seen together at random times.  Sometimes these are carefully staged, such as the letter I still have somewhere from my sister (then 15) during my freshman year at college, wherein the entire letter is movie quotes modified for the situation.  We do this at the darndest times too, usually if a situation looks too sentimental, as a way of coping, or to “trivialize the momentous and complicate the obvious.”  It has gotten us into mischief sometimes, and I crave pardon because I’m going to subject you to a small example of this tonight.

Tomorrow, someone has a big birthday.

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And just going through the pictures is enough to make me want to cry. 🙂

Tomorrow, we’re the parents of a TEENAGER.

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No way, right?

“Now I see in your eyes, the same fear, that would take the heart of me! A day may come, when [we really regret that the teen years are here], but it is not this day.

“This day, we [celebrate!]”

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MR. MAN!

I’m not scared of the teen years.  We all survived our own, and so did our parents.  It’s going to have its ups and downs, and maybe more downs than ups, but what good would it do to fret about it?  It’s not going to stop the clock! 😉  So no, I’m not afraid.

((Cue Yoda: “You will be. You will be.” 😉 ))

Yes, I know, I’m incurably optimistic and naive.  I’m facing uncharted waters full of breakers and other things-not-so-good.  But you know what? We’ve been facing uncharted waters all the time since that evening of December 5, 2003, when a sort of normal pregnancy went suddenly very not-normal and things happened so fast we didn’t know what our lives would look like the next day.  We were getting the no good really awful terrible news. Life was not turning out how we thought. But he came. He began by beating all the odds, and he’s still at it. Life may not have followed our original plan, but a much better one.  Trooper needed us, and we needed him.  We are all the better for him.  And God has a way of getting folks through uncharted waters, so it’s all good.  It’s all grace.

Happy 13th Birthday, our Trooper. We love you so much, you crazy, funny, sarcastic teenager. You still light our world with your smile and our days with your laughter.  It is an honor and privilege to be your parents.  You mean the world to us, big guy.  We bless and thank God for the first 13 years of your life, and we look forward to sharing the teen years with you.

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Yarn-Along: A Trio of WIPs

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I once wrote of my horror of too many WIPs (work-in-progress).  It seems I’m bound to have to occasionally eat my own words.  I have three projects on the needles at present! Three!  I’m sure this is still a reaction to having two projects back to back that stretch out over a year (0r two), because suddenly I want to do All The Things!!!

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From Left to Right: The Evelyn Sweater, the Quick & Thick Mountain Man Boot Socks, and Mini Stocking Ornament.

The Evelyn is on hold probably until after Christmas.  I love the sweater.  I love the pattern. After Christmas, during that week between holidays, I will gladly return to it as I drink my tea and enjoy our Christmas break.  Besides, I chose to knit it in Icelandic wool, and it’s still in the 60s and 70s here.

The Quick & Thick Mountain Man Boot Socks began as a quick response to Haus Meister’s request to socks for Christmas.  That’s now been changed to slippers since we found these soles, but the pattern is nice and I want to go back to it again sometime.  I finished three inches there while waiting in line to vote.  I know I got a few quizzical looks, but I also made a few ladies smile and one told me she wished she’d thought of bringing her own knitting.  The yarn I am using was discontinued, causing no little shock here because that yarn had been a Christmas gift from him to me not so very long ago (I thought). So another reason I’m doing All The Things is also because I want to start going through my stash. (Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Tonal in Thunderhead)

The Stocking Ornament is something I thought of after getting this year’s Comfort and Joy Advent bundle.   I have been reading Elizabeth Foss’ blog for about eight years now and have enjoyed the love and attention she puts into her family celebrations.  Advent and Christmas was such a fun part of our own childhoods so Haus Meister and I have enjoyed these years of blending and creating traditions. This year we are going to have the children hang their stockings on St. Nicholas Eve, and during the recent visit with my sister and mother, we discussed the idea Elizabeth puts in her book, about giving each child an ornament at Christmas that can go with them to their future home.

I love that.  I do have several ornaments that have come with me from my parents’ house (including the Ugly Nutcracker that my sister also wanted, so one year I graciously gave it back). The only problem I could foresee with gifting ornaments is that we tend to buy plastic ornaments by the bulk in those wannabe elegant sets from Wal-Mart or Lowes in the hope that said ornaments might survive the season.  Did I want to spend an extra $4 per child ($36!) on 9 individual fragile ornaments that might last if I put them up VERY high and nothing occurs to knock down the tree.  Resin ornaments are as worthless as glass when they hit the family room floor, by the way. So in the stash busting spirit, I decided to knit some ornaments and give them with my love. I think that will do just fine.

Reading?  I’ve been returning to Sally and Sarah Clarkson’s The Life Giving Home often throughout this year, and especially this Fall.  It has been a great aid in helping me think of ways to make a haven here during a year that has drained us all in more ways than one.  Also, of course, the aforementioned Advent planner, particularly the journal.  It may be early, but we’re hosting Thanksgiving and Advent comes directly after.  It’s a soothing thing to plan for at the end of a year that has drained us all in one way or another.  Plus it is the season of hope. And that’s a lovely thing.