Wednesday, January 16, 2013

New Year's in New Jersey

One of the biggest challenges of moving to Chicago, for Frank and me, will be staying close to Frank's family. They live in New Jersey and haven't ever traveled west of the Mississippi. When we told them we were moving to Chicago, we might as well have told them we were moving to Timbuktu.

But we love them—a lot—and the last thing we want is for the move to put distance between us. So that's the new goal for us: stay close to Frank's family. Be actively a part of their lives. Make sure they know how much we love them.

We started our goal off well in the new year by visiting them over New Year's. We had so much fun! Here are some pictures (ok, way too many pictures) from that visit.

We exchanged Christmas gifts with Frank's family when we arrived a few days after Christmas.

Frank told me to buy a "cut the rope" iPad toy for Ethan. I was skeptical, but sure enough, Eth loved it!

I gave Jenna a copy of the Jane Austen Guide (as you know), signed by the lovely author herself.

And then Frank's parents gave me my gift. Opening the card...

That look of excitement as I realize what's inside...

The Kitchenaid mixer off our wedding registry!!! I was absolutely thrilled! This means Frank and I are real grown-ups now! I mean, you have to be, to own a Kitchenaid, right?

On New Year's Eve, Frank and I stole away on a little road trip to see the historical sites in the area. We also saw some sites from his childhood.

Side note: this is the only snow I've seen all year. Boohoo, living in Virginia (it's practically tropical compared to Chicago). Although, do I really miss the three-foot drifts in South Bend?

My favorite thing we saw? The location where George Washington famously crossed the Delaware with his Continental Army to attack the Hessian troops on Christmas Eve!

This little house has been there since that night, and Washington used it to plan his attack.

The museum was closed for the holiday, but Frank got this picture through the window. I can't wait to go back when it's open!

Here's the road Washington and his soldiers marched on—I was thrilled to see it, since Washington is my favorite president (sorry, all you William Howard Taft fans ;) ) and I remember reading about the Christmas crossing since I was very little. That attack turned the tide of the Revolutionary War.

Hugh Mercer, one of Washington's officers mentioned below, was Robert E. Lee's grandfather.

He's a huge deal in that area of New Jersey. Everything is named after him—Mercer Street, Mercer Academy High School, Mercer Community College.

We walked to the spot where the crossing took place, at one of the narrowest points of the Delaware River.

I definitely let my imagination run away with me when I saw this place. Can't you just imagine those poor soldiers, crossing the river in the bitter cold?

Frank told me that every year on Christmas Eve, a local historical society reenacts the famous crossing. Doesn't that sound like the coolest thing ever? I immediately made it a new life goal to attend the reenactment one year.

After that we drove down to Howell Farm, a living history museum where Frank used to be a Revolutionary War reenactor. Funny story... I used to be a Civil War reenactor (until an embarrassingly old age, too). Insert history-nerd joke here. :)

We also drove past the house in Trenton where Frank grew up. I loved hearing his stories about his childhood and how much fun he had with his friends, playing in the woods and exploring the neighborhood. I could have listened to him talk about it all day.

But we were due back at the house for the family New Year's Eve party his creative little brother had cooked up.

We came home to find this in the kitchen:

Pretty impressive! Ethan had also hung a banner and attached curly streamers to all the lights.

For New Year's Eve it was just the family and two of Jenna's friends. Frank's family told stories, we ate good food, and had a nice and quiet evening.

One highlight of the visit was Frank's parents coming to Mass with us on Sunday morning. We felt grateful to have them along. 

We also attended a beautiful Vespers service on New Year's Eve, in vigil for the feast day of Mary, the Mother of God on January 1. That was a great start to the new year.

How was your New Year's? Did you make any resolutions?

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