Image via WikipediaIt's been awhile since I posted, I know. I went back to work after being off for a month following my lap-band surgery, and I was just plain worn out. We also had the Christmas and New Year's holidays. I had a fabulous time getting together with family and friends, both in Real Life (tm) and online.
Christmas is my favorite holiday. I love the beautiful, colorful lights decorating all the homes. We put the icicle lights up on our roof line this year along with many strings of lights on our Christmas tree. The music is truly amazing, from Medieval motets to Handel's Messiah to Michael W. Smith's Christmas album. I love singing 'O Come, O Come Emmanuel' and 'Carol of the Bells'. The Hallelujah Chorus gives me goosebumps every time I hear it. We added Andrea Bocelli's Christmas album to our music repertoire this year--he has such a beautiful tenor voice. Singing carols with the rest of our church congregation, visiting with friends and family, and listening to the Christmas story are some of the most beautiful things about this season.
The delightful smell of freshly baked homemade cookies wafting through our home makes my mouth water. Granted, I could only eat tiny amounts of cookies this year, and I didn't make the brown sugar cashew fudge this time since it was too much temptation for me, but I decided not to deny myself the goodies entirely. I still managed to lose 2 pounds over the holidays--something that has NEVER happened to me in the past!
Geeky Mom that I am, gaming took up some of my time. The Siege of Mirkwood expansion came out for Lord of the Rings Online, and of course LOTRO had their annual Yule festival. Turbine's newest incarnation of the festival horse race drove me nuts because it depended a LOT on speed and just plain dumb luck. When you play on a server as busy as the Brandywine server, especially during a festival, the server ping rate is far from ideal. I failed many times due to just plain lag. However, I did finally get the 2 Yule festival horses. The artists did a lovely job with the details.
I was less than enthused about how Turbine managed the Siege of Mirkwood expansion, as were any number of other players. If you signed up for a multi-month payment plan before the release of SoM, you received the expansion for free. If you were a lifetime member or on the month-to-month plan, you had to pay for it. Now, they tried to soften the blow by saying "you'll get it free with this pre-release 'Adventurer's pack'", however, the Adventurer's pack was crap. It consisted of a cloak that was worthless for anyone above level 4 or 5, a couple other items, and 2 new character slots. Now, I actually wanted the character slots, so I was happy to fork out the 20 bucks. However, I didn't appreciate the bass-ackward marketing strategy where Turbine gave SoM to some people for free while others had to pay.
Christmas Day was awesome. We went to my dad's house for dinner with the extended family. After enjoying an amazing Beef Wellington dinner, we exchanged gifts. Then I pulled out the Xbox 360, drums, guitars, mics, and plugged in Rock Band Beatles. My dad is probably one of the biggest Beatles fans on this side of the Atlantic. He has every album. His short term memory is a little wonky after his stroke, but he can sing every single Beatles song word and note-perfect. My sister took some video of my dad and me singing while her boyfriend played drums and my husband and son played guitar and bass. We all had such a good time that my sister and her boyfriend came over to our house the next day, and my dad joined us a few days later for even more Beatlemania.
We game as a family on New Year's Eve. The last few years we've played D and D to ring in the New Year. This year we decided to rock in the New Year by playing Lego Rock Band. Of course, we had to play Queen's "We Will Rock You" as the clock struck midnight. After that, the kids went to bed, and hubby and I logged into Guild Wars for their Wintersday finale. There were some issues with huge lag problems and some people not receiving their festival hats, but ArenaNet quickly got out a new build and fixed the problem, including a promise to do another Wintersday to make it up to those who weren't able to get their festival items. I spent New Year's day doing so many Snowball Dominance runs that I made over 100k in gold (pixelated gold always being a useful thing in any video game) and maxed my Ebon Vanguard title. Hubby thought I was nuts to do hundreds of runs, but it only took about 2-3 minutes per run, and it was just plain fun to throw snowballs at the opposing team instead of killing Charr. When they do a repeat of that festival, I'll log in with another character and max their title by having fun throwing a few more thousand snowballs.
Hope you had a very Merry Christmas, and that your New Year is fantastic!