Curious Chooks

Here are Essie, Rosie and Gladys Kravitz watching Jon assemble the new Christmas trampoline in our backyard. I think they’re pleased that they will now have a new and very large hideout under which they can disappear from the view of hawks and other airborne predators.

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It’s A Christmas Miracle!

My hens all quit laying late last summer. It started when I treated the whole flock with a round of antibiotics after one of them came down with some kind of infection. After receiving the medicine, first one hen and then another slowed her egg output until eventually they had all stopped laying altogether.

By late September, none of the girls were producing anything. That’s right; we’ve had NO eggs for the last 4 months from a flock of totally healthy, well fed backyard chickens. At this point, I’ve become so accustomed to them NOT laying eggs that I don’t even check the nestboxes every day.

But this morning I did take a peek into the hens’ favorite communal nestbox and what do you know! An egg was there. One of the hens actually produced an egg. From the look of this egg, it likely came from either Rosie or Frances, my two Orpingtons.

Orpington Egg

I’ll be quite interested to see whether this single egg marks the beginning of the end of our egg-ey drought. I certainly hope so. Otherwise, I guess it’s likely to be spring, when the days get longer and the weather gets warmer, before the girls start laying regularly again.

Winter Color In The Garden

This is the time of year when I am sort of pining away for sunshine and color. So when I do see a pop of winter color in someone’s garden, I notice it, like this gorgeous nandina + juniper combo in one of the landscaped beds outside my new office. Beautiful, no?

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Been Sick

I’m so sorry I’ve been mostly absent but I’ve been SO sick with a head cold that turned into major sinus infection. This is the sickest I’ve been in a long time and I feel rotten. I’m behind on everything and that feels rotten too. I’m hoping that antibiotics clears things up, and I hope to be back in action very soon!

Leo + Legos + Kindergarten Readiness

Four year old G is suddenly really enjoying playing with Legos. Her fine motor skills are still pretty babyish, so I’m thinking she’s working on some new developmental growth with this newfound Lego love.

As you can see, Leo is an excellent Lego-building helper.

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Just in the last week or two I think Jon and I have decided that G won’t start kindergarten next fall (2015), but will instead start in fall of 2016 right after she turns 6.

She would barely make the age cutoff for 2015 – her birthday is June 27 – so she’d be one of the youngest if not the youngest child in her kindergarten class. And as my sister Betsy – a former preschool and kindergarten teacher herself – wisely points out, what’s the hurry? G is enjoying her two days a week of preschool, and since she didn’t start preschool until age 4, she’s still got lots of pre-k skills to master before she’s ready for kindergarten. We also think she’ll have a better chance of testing into the excellent magnet elementary program that C has been in since kindergarten if we wait a year for her to be tested.

How old were your kids when they started kindergarten? Are you happy with the choice you made for when to start them or do you wish you’d waited?

Buddy the Elf

Smiling Is My Favorite (AKA: WHHHHEEEE! Christmas Is Coming!)

Usually, I am a veritable Christmas ninja, carefully planning, shopping, wrapping and hiding months in advance of the big day. I am this organized for two reasons; first, I absolutely LOVE Christmas. It’s my favorite time of year and the amount of Christmas cheer that I radiate from Thanksgiving Day forward would put Buddy the Elf to shame. Secondly, I have A WHOLE LOT of people for whom I have to shop/wrap/tag for Christmas. I have my own four children, plus Jon. And we have 11 nieces and nephews, plus I have three other young cousins I consider nephews for whom I shop. Then there is my mother, Jon’s parents, and….I’m sure I’m forgetting somebody.

I also have several family traditions I’m in charge of, like ordering custom ornaments each year for each of the kids, planning our annual family gingerbread house bake-off competition, plus buying new Christmas-themed jammies each season. Needless to say, I have to be really, really organized in order to get all this Christmas stuff done.

Last year I was really off my game though. I was still shopping on December 24th. This is UNHEARD OF for me, and it seriously stressed me out. So this year I have gotten back on track and I’ve already been shopping, wrapping and list-making like crazy. I enjoy every second of it. “Doing” Christmas is one of the great joys of my life as a mother.

My office is my Christmas workshop, and it makes me very happy to look at how it’s already filling up with wrapped gifts

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WHHEEEE! Christmas is coming! Christmas is coming!!

Madison Reed Hair

STUFF I LIKE: Madison Reed Hair Color

Two weeks ago, my teenage daughter J reminded me it was time to color my hair again. The dreaded gray was showing up at the roots and around my temples. I know many women with gorgeous gray hair but here’s the deal; I’m just nowhere near ready to be one of them. Just about nothing makes me feel less like showing myself in public than when my eyebrows need a good waxing or gray hair is showing up on my head.

The thing is, though that I really do have to color my hair every four to six weeks now in order to make sure no gray peeks through, and frankly sometimes I just forget to pick up hair color at the pharmacy for a few weeks, or they’ll be out of the color I like so I decide to try another color and I hate it because it fries my hair, or some other something interferes with me keeping my hair color in the condition in which I like it, so then I get those not-so-subtle reminders from people like my eldest daughter or my sister that I’ve once again let my hair go for too long.

Sigh.

Fortuitously, however, I was recently asked to check out a new service that I believe is going to solve my gray peek-thru issue once and for all while also giving me what I’ve discovered to be the best hair color experience outside of a salon that I’ve ever had. The service is called Madison Reed, and much like Birch Box and other popular once a month concierge-by mail services for women, Madison Reed delivers to your door everything you need to color your hair at home every month like clockwork, making getting to the salon or the pharmacy one more thing you can cross off your to-do list.

Madison Reed hair

Here’s how it works; first, you visit the Madison Reed site and work with a colorist either by phone or by online chat to select the color that’s both what you want and will also actually give you the color you are hoping for.

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I worked with the colorist online, and she was very honest with me that the color I selected, a flaming red called “Vesuvius” wasn’t going to give me the fire-engine shade it would give someone with much lighter hair than I have. But she did tell me that it would give me a nice red wash and sheen, while covering my grays beautifully. This sounded great to me, so I ordered the “Vesuvius Red” shade and waited for my first box to arrive.
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Fall’s Final Feast

It’s in the 40s outside, and I am trying to get a fire going in the fireplace this morning, but I also took some time to go out and collect a pretty nice haul of three kinds of ripe peppers from my garden.

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I suspect this will be the last food I bring in from the garden this year, but the fact that I am still harvesting anything on November 7th – much less peppers this tasty looking – after we’ve already had some extremely frosty weather makes me pretty nice.

Do you still have anything growing in your garden?

Zulily: In Case You’re Ready To Start Holiday Shopping

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A Sophie Catalou dress from Zulily

It’s a fact; I love dressing my two littlest in cute stuff. At some point they’ll start rebelling and insist on picking all their own clothes, but for now, at ages 7 and 4, they’re happy to wear what I lay out for them each morning.

And I buy most of their clothes from one place in particular: Zulily. The prices are great, and it’s the only place I can find some of my favorite kids’ brands, like Sophie Catalou and Jelly & Pug at prices I can afford.

So here’s my annual holiday season reminder that Zulily is an awesome flash sale site with THE cutest kids’ clothes, plus toys, home goods (I’ve gotten some awesome garden flair there) and more. If you’re a shoe addict, they sometimes have AHmazing sales on all kinds of women’s shoes, including some higher-end ones marked down as much as 80%.

Here’s a pair of velvet flats I bought from Zulily recently, and just love.

Zulily shoes

And here’s the deal with Zulily, if someone you refer actually buys something there, you get store credit. So since I suspect many of you are, as I am starting your holiday shopping, here’s my link to Zulily to check out the site. If you order something, I receive referral credit, and if someone you refer buys something, you get referral credit. Even if you don’t have a blog, you can share your referral code on Facebook or even by email. Easy peasy.

Exhibit Night For Second Grade

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Last night was Exhibit Night at C’s school, and here she is showing off some of her artwork. We also watched a little mini-play that the Drama Club put on and unfortunately, she miffed her lines a bit, which she’s still ruminating over this morning.