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Happy birthday Jesus! The true reason for the season. Merry Christmas to all of our friends and family.
Will, Landon and Drew visiting Santa Claus earlier this holiday season.
I woke up early this morning after Santa Claus had come and snapped this picture of our Christmas tree all decorated with presents and gifts from Santa Claus in front of it.
Finally, the picture for our Christmas card this year. Merry Christmas!
When we came home from church this evening, we took a moment for some Christmas Eve pictures. Landon is very excited about Ho-Ho coming!
Will looking sharp.
Drew was a great helper again this year putting up our lights, inside and out.
Aunt Donelda joined her nephews in some matching sweater Christmas spirit.
Drew, Landon and Will are very excited about Christmas tomorrow.
They have a lot of little boy energy and are determined to find a way to burn it off, so a little friendly wrestling and whatever this is.
The fist step in decorating our Christmas tree is putting the star on top. Mama's been reading to Landon a little cardboard page Sesame Street book entitled, "Baby Brother's Christmas." In the book, baby brother is too little to help with any of the Christmas activities until the end:
"Baby brother, you have the most important job of all," says Daddy. "You get to put the star on top of the Christmas tree!"
As a result of the story, Landon was very excited to help put the start on top of our Christmas tree. Please realize that I am perilously standing on a chair in this picture. I don't know how many years we'll be able to repeat this act.
Drew and Landon both helped putting the lights on the Christmas tree. One helped more than the other, but I'm not telling which. We put on a total of 1660 lights, a new record I think.
Our Elf on the Shelf, Ralph, chose to keep an eye on our boys for a day from a perch high atop our Christmas tree.
Landon putting on the first ornament.
Will was next putting an ornament on the Christmas tree.
Finally, Drew got his turn to put an ornament on the Christmas tree.
While hanging ornaments, Mama laid down to hang an ornament on a bottom branch. Landon immediately saw this as an opportunity to lay down on Mama. Will followed while Drew wasn't about to be left out. Daddy joined in and Aunt Donelda grabbed the camera just in time to catch a spontaneous family moment. Woe is Mama having to deal with her four boys.
The final result, one fully decorated Christmas tree.
The sky was really clear tonight and Jupiter stood plainly out above us. I've never tried to take pictures of any of the planets before and suggested to Drew that maybe we should try tonight. He was really excited, so we I took my camera out and set it on the tripod along with our relatively measly 200mm zoom and started shooting. To our amazement, we were able to capture 3 of Jupiter's 4 Galilean moons discovered by Galileo in 1610 (the fourth is no doubt in front or behind Jupiter). All totaled, Jupiter has 64 moons with about half being so small they were only discovered in the last ten years.
This is a 100% crop and the moons are only 5 or 6 pixels wide. I had no idea you could see another planet's moons with an average zoom lens the equivalent of a good pair of binoculars. I think they'll be more planetary photography in the future. I'm interested to see if I can resolve some surface detail. Saturn will definitely be a future subject.
After further research and review of the photos I took of Jupiter and its moons, I've changed my opinion on what I originally thought was just a background star. I now think we did in fact capture all four of Jupiter's Galilean moons. I think the displacement of the fourth moon is exaggerated because the other three moons just happen to be closer to Jupiter in their current orbits. If the moons were a little more spread out, the displacement would appear less and the fourth moon would appear to be more where I've seen it in other photos. All this combined with this moon being less bright than its siblings caused me to miss it the first time around. This photos is another 100% crop which clearly shows four moons! (Jupiter is not bigger, or more zoomed in, in this photo, rather it is just overexposed.)
This afternoon we all went to pick out our Christmas tree. In keeping with tradition, Mama took what has become one of my favorite photos that of me and our boys at the Christmas tree lot.
Getting ready to net our tree...not too hard this year.
All wrapped up and ready to take home.
The tree looks smaller on top of the truck.
All set up and ready to have lights strung and ornaments hung. A foot or more away from the ceiling...gotta get a bigger one next year.
I still believe we have the best automatic tree waterer in the world!
Lowe's was in the news today. I was reminded of the fact on my way home from work while listening to the news on the radio. So, naturally, I stopped in and bought some stuff I didn't need; an ice scrapper and a mop.
What's the opposite of a boycott? A girlcott? A buycott?
No doubt Lowe's will come up with some innocuous reasons for its actions, be counter-protested and possibly even be made to change its actions. But, for the time being, it's nice to think a multi-billion dollar corporation can do the right thing. And, I feel good supporting that.
Early this morning, just before sunrise, this year's second total eclipse occurred. There will not be another total lunar eclipse until April 15, 2014. I took this shot about 5:46 am, about an hour before the one below.
Unfortunately, here in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the eclipse was only partial...very partial. I shot this photo about 6:49 am as the moon was getting roof-top low on the horizon and the sun was just thinking about coming up.
The West Coast of the United States had the rare opportunity to observe the unusual effect known as a "selenelion," where both the sun and the eclipsed moon can be seen in the sky at the same time.
The next partial lunar eclipse will occur on June 4, 2012, and should be visible across most of North America.
When contacted to review a Hickory Farms gift basket, I immediately jumped at the opportunity. Who doesn't love Hickory Farms gift baskets? They're a holiday institution! There are few other gifts which are as universally well received as one of their baskets. They're like the anti-fruitcake. Everyone hates fruitcake, but everyone loves Hickory Farms. The only complaint I've ever heard over the years is that people always want more!
This is my Orchard's Bounty Gift Basket with the cellophane removed. The one and only thing that is unique to my review sample is the inclusion of a 4GB USB thumb-drive in the white box on the right containing company and product information. (Photographing the basket with our wooden floor as the background was just stupid, it looks horrible.)
This is the official Hickory Farms promotional shot for the Orchard's Bounty Gift Basket.
This is my own shot of the contents of the Orchard's Bounty Gift Basket, minus the basket of course. I like my shot better, but then I'm incredibly biased. The fruit was aesthetically flawless in quality. You could ponder for hours over your local market's fruit bins and not pick out better.
The basket contains:
Note, that for reasons unknown, my basket contained Hollywood Trail Mix instead of the Berry Nut Bounty. But, no complaints here, the trail mix was great.
- 2 "Signature" Beef Summer Sausages (5 oz.)
- 1 "Signature" Farmhouse Cheddar (4 oz.)
- 2 Crown Comice Pears
- 2 Red D'Anjou Pears
- 3 Fuji Apples
- 5 Mandarin Oranges
- 1 Berry Nut Bounty (4 oz.)
- 1 Olive Oil & Rosemary Crackers (1.5 oz.)
- 1 Hand made in the USA Peterboro Basket
After church today, we all enjoyed our fresh to the door bounty all cut up and ready for the five of us to graze on for lunch! Everything was incredible. The sausage and cheese naturally compliment each other but when combined with the variety of fresh fruit...it was a palate party sensation.
We particularly liked the two types of pears. The Crown Comice pears were delicious but the Red D'Anjou pears had twice the pear flavor! I don't think I had every tasted them before. We had a great time blindly taste testing pieces of each but it was easy to pick out the more flavorful Red D'Anjou.
The sausage, the cheese, the crackers, the pears, the apples, the oranges; Mary, all three boys and I loved everything!
In addition to the terrific food, you get a high quality, hand made in the USA basket. We've got a dozen or more Longaberger baskets around the house and, while I'm no basket expert, I can't tell any difference in quality between the Hickory Farms Peterboro basket and our Longabergers.
Finally, all Hickory Farms gift baskets can be ordered online or by telephone with expedited $3 dollar/3 day shipping.
I wrote this review while participating in a campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Hickory Farms and received a product sample to facilitate my review.