Monday, December 27, 2010

Settling Down for a Long Winter's Blog

So it's been a month and a half since my last post, and I feel terrible about that. I even mentioned the blog in some Christmas cards this year ("keep up with us during the year by checking out the photos and posts at my blog"), but I still haven't updated it in forever. I really should be better about this, shouldn't I?

I had all sorts of thoughts about posts I could have done before Christmas. I was going to write about how we somehow found the most perfect Christmas tree in all of New Jersey. There it was: just one of a bunch of trees cut and leaning against the barn at the tree farm. It took us about 5 minutes to find it. It was the first tree we looked at. It didn't seem right to find the perfect tree so easily, without any suffering or arguing amongst ourselves, that we looked around for a while longer, but there seemed little point. We all knew it was the one. So after we peeled Catgirl away from the family of bunnies in the barn, we loaded it up and took it home.
Finding some free family time to decorate it was harder than finding the tree!
the perfect tree

The months of November and December brought us Mathboy's confirmation. I have pictures of him wearing the red gown that all the boys wore for Confirmation at the church, but he would prefer I not post those here. He did not enjoy wearing the red gown. April and her youngest daughter, and Leslie and Frank came to visit us for Confirmation weekend, which was a nice treat. We also ran a 5K race that weekend--my first race ever, the one that Mathboy and I started training for over the summer. I had to walk a couple of times because I had been sick for the 2 weeks before the race and slacked off on the training. But I still posted a respectable finish time of just under 33 minutes, which I felt was a success. I want to keep running, but the weather has gotten in my way here the past few weeks....

Audrey gave us our first eggs in early November. Audrey is a bantam, so the eggs were very small and cute. You can see how much smaller the yolks from her eggs are compared to one from a store-bought extra-large egg, but they are still yummy!

Bantam egg yolks

Daisy joined Audrey in the nesting boxes after a week or so, and then Jackie. They are both standard chickens, so their eggs are much closer in size to store-bought. The other two banties, Lily and Melanie, just started laying the week before Christmas. By then, Audrey went on a winter break, which was well-deserved considering that she laid 5 or 6 eggs a week for over a month. Regardless, we've had a few days this week when we collected 4 eggs, which is very good. The short days and the cold have made the laying schedule all wonky, I think.

We can tell everyone's eggs apart, which I did not expect. Audrey's are small,and more yellow than brown, Daisy's eggs are big and a warm brown, while Jackie's a pinkish brown.

In December, Rich and I decided that we really wanted to get up to New York to see all the Christmas stuff. We bought tickets for the Rockettes' show at Radio City, because we had never seen that, and made lots of other plans for an epic day in the Big Apple. We caught an early train out of Hamilton, and got to NYC around 8:30 in the morning, on a very cold day. We were very glad we had bundled up with long underwear and warm socks (and lots of handknits!).

Catgirl, Nicki and I started the day at American Girl Place. Nicki got her hair done and her ears pierced, and we had a delicious brunch in the cafe.

We walked around the city, and saw the Christmas sights:

We went up to the top of Rockefeller Center (where it was REALLY cold!):

We saw the tree in Rockefeller Center:

Throughout the day, we really did not have any trouble with crowds. We got to thoroughly explore and enjoy F.A.O. Schwartz and take our time with the windows at Macy's. The worst trouble we had was when we were wandering around Rockefeller Center, killing time before the Rockettes' show. There were so many people in the Lego store there, we had trouble really seeing any of the amazing stuff they had there, and we lost each other at least 3 times. It was the scariest part of the day for me. We decided to go see if we could get into the theater early, and fortunately we could.

I LOVED the Christmas show. That's pretty much all I can say about it. Was it hokey? You bet. A little strange? Absolutely. But the dancers, singers and actors were all wonderful, the staging was wonderful, the production value was wonderful. The living Nativity was breathtaking, and had me tearing up. The only thing that bothered me was the way that half the audience was late, and still finding their seats throughout the first and second scenes.

People. For what these tickets cost, you should have been there on time.

The New York trip really got us ready for Christmas. Next came a weekend of frenzied cookie-baking:
Christmas Cut-out cookies, and
chocolate-dipped Melting Moments.

Christmas itself was lovely. The kids got what they wanted (e.g., new phones and new coats, new golf club and new clothes for the American Girl dolls). We are not sure, but we think we could probably win a contest for the strangest Christmas gifts, for some of the things that were exchanged in our house. Mathboy got a model trebuchet. He put it together and it works! Rich wanted and received a weather vane. (He also wanted and received The Promise boxed set by Bruce Springsteen, which is much more normal and also was much appreciated).

We had planned to have a nice Christmas gathering at my parents' house on the 26th, but the weather threw us for a loop. For several days, the news people talked about a threat of snow on the 26th, but the Channel 6 folks (my favorite) kept saying that they thought it would go out to sea and that we might get an inch of snow, if any. But midday on Christmas day, however, they changed their tune and the forecast now called for about of foot of snow in our part of New Jersey.

We did not want to miss out on the chance to see everyone, so Rich and I pulled the kids out of bed early on the 26th. We threw on some warm clothes, packed up the gifts and got some coffee and toast, and were on the road before 8. We got to spend the morning and then some at my parents' house, and enjoyed a yummy brunch that Mom and Bill threw together very quickly. We had time to talk, look at old pictures, and play a game or two.
Unfortunately, we could not take time with our gifts, because we heard reports that the weather was already getting ugly in New Jersey. By 1 pm, we felt that we really had to get on the road to come back home.

It got very ugly here last night. We were glad we were home. Now we have about 10 to 12 inches on the ground, but it's blowing around a lot in the high winds. There are spots where it is over my knees, and some spots where you can see the grass. I was walking out to the coop this morning, to bring water to the chickens, and I felt like a real farmer...and wishing I could stay in bed. Ah, the price of fresh eggs.

Our favorite neighbor is snow-blowing our driveway as I write. I think I should send him a box of eggs later, hm?