For the first 50 years of my life, my perfectionist self mistakenly believed it was all about knowing more, getting it right, planning, attempting to prevent bad things from happening, and keeping all of my chicks in a row. It took me this long to discover that the JOURNEY is all that matters. This quote from Gilda Radner sums it all up:

"I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Competition is Sweet!

"Battle is the most magnificent competition in which a human being can indulge. It brings out all that is best; it removes all that is base."   ~ George S. Patton

The people in my family have a lot in common.
But if I had to pick one thing that's most prominent, 
it would have to be this:
We are competitive.  We like to win.

So when we decided to make Gingerbread Houses this year,
what fun would it be if it we didn't make a competition out of it?

We paired up into teams and went to Stop & Shop to buy what we needed.
The only rule:  it had to be totally edible.

Team #1:   Kerry and her friend, Melissa

Team #2:  Emily and Joe

Team #3:  Lori and Hali

Team #4:  Gayle and Adam

"The pressure people put on themselves and the rivalry between the teams is much more marked. And I think that's a good thing. As long as that rivalry remains within the spirit of competition, it can only spur everyone on.

~ Eric Cantona

"I think there's something wrong with me - I like to win in everything I do, regardless of what it is. You want to race down the street, I want to beat you. If we're playing checkers, I want to win. You beat me, it's going to bother me. I just enjoy competition." 

~Derek Jeter

Kerry and Melissa made a sweet cottage.  It was covered with sweet tarts, twizzlers, candy canes and shredded wheat cereal on the roof.  There was a pretzel fence, a tootsie roll log pile, jolly rancher pond and fire pit, and real gingerbread people warming themselves by the fire. A nice finishing touch was the snowy frosting drizzled on the roof and windows.

"You have competition every day because you set such high standards for yourself that you have to go out every day and live up to that."  ~ Michael Jordan

Emily and Joe had a very unique design with a lighthouse made from rice krispie squares, a boathouse from vanilla wafer cookies, and a boat floating in a pool of melted Jolly Ranchers.  Rocks were chocolate covered raisins.  There was even a gingerbread girl sunning herself on the roof.

Lori and Hali went with a very detailed chalet design with lots of frosting details. The path was made from slivered almonds.  The trees were fresh herbs (thyme or rosemary I think).  Their coup might have been their intricate fence made out of piped chocolate, except we think the light above the table was too hot and their fences kept drooping!

"It is nice to have valid competition; it pushes you to do better."  ~ Gianni Versace

Adam and I designed a New England cottage with a fall theme.  It was sided with peanut butter and potato sticks, pretzels, and golden grahams on the roof.  The grass was made out of coconut sprayed with food coloring, the trees out of popcorn, and the pumpkins from cheese balls. Adam made dormer windows with hershey chocolate bar roofs and baskets of apples.  The chocolate chimney had popcorn smoke coming out of it.  On the other side of the house was a lean-to with pretzel rod wood logs. The orange leaves were lentils.

"Some people don't like competition because it makes them work harder, better"

                   ~ Drew Carey

Annie got home from college toward the end of the competition and Grandma Alice came over for the dinner we didn't have time to make!

In fairness, we needed judges that were totally objective and didn't know who made each house.  We called upon our neighbors, Linda and Ron.

They were feeling the pressure, though, and we had to convince them that nobody's feelings would be hurt.

 Vance had the honor of tallying up the points and announcing the winners.

First Place: Gayle and Adam

Second Place: Kerry and Melissa

Third Place:  It was a tie.  Lori and Hali, Emily and Joe.

"At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal. You WILL regret the time you lost the gingerbread contest." 

 ~ Barbara Bush

It's Christmas-time in the City

Christmas came early this year with the arrival of family from Alaska on the 17th.  
My sister, Lori arrived with two of her daughters, 
Hali and Emily 
and Emily's boyfriend, Joe.
We have not spent Christmas together since before Lori moved to Alaska 25 years ago!

We had a lot planned for the ten day visit.
After giving them a day to adjust to the time change,
we headed to NYC.
Emily, Hali and Joe had never been there.

 After taking an early train from New Haven to Grand Central Station,
we headed out to begin a long day of site-seeing.

 First stop - Rockefeller Center.
 We went all the way to the Top of the Rock for a view of the city.

 It was a little windy, even though the glass panels helped block most of the wind.

 This is my beautiful sister Lori with Hali (left) and Emily (right).

 Emily didn't know it yet, but not only was she at the top of the rock, she would be receiving a rock from Joe a few days later!

 I must be shrinking, because Kerry has never been taller than me before!

 I find the resemblance among the cousins remarkable!

 The crystal chandelier in Rockefeller Center was beautiful!

 The Salvation Army workers were quite fun to watch as they danced to music on their boom box.

 We proceeded down 5th Avenue and stopped at St. Patrick's Cathedral.
Hali lit a candle for her grandparents.

 The stores on 5th Avenue were dressed for Christmas.

 I really liked the Tiffany window.  
(Emily would be receiving a similar turquoise box in a few days) 

 After taking the subway to Union Square for lunch and spending time shopping at the Christmas market there, we made our way downtown.
There was another big Christmas tree on Wall Street.

We waited in line for the 9/11 Memorial.  The tall shiny buildings are some of the new World Trade Center towers. 

 The memorial's twin reflecting pools are each nearly an acre in size and feature the largest manmade waterfalls in North America. 
The pools sit within the footprints where the Twin Towers once stood. 

The names of all who died are carved and backlit around the outside of each pool.

 Our last stop of the day was Times Square.

 It just had to be seen after dark!  

 We walked around a little before meeting Vance for dinner.
He was there on a business trip.

There were plenty of characters walking around the streets - kind of creepy.

 I didn't get a picture (darn), but Spiderman was very taken by Lori and swung down off his pole to say hello to her!

There we are on the Forever 21 video board... 

Right in the center, Hali has the black coat and white scarf.

After leaving the house at 5:45 AM, we got back home at 11PM.
It was a long day, but we had a lot of fun together!
And it was only the beginning!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Look Who's Going To College

Childhood is not from birth to a certain age

 and at a certain age the child is grown 

and puts away childish things.   

Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies.
  Nobody that matters, that is.

~ Edna St Vincent Millay 

I took Annie back to college yesterday after her Thanksgiving break.
She had brought her laundry home and had packed up her clean clothes along with her laptop charger, her blankie, 
and Bun-Bun.

It's only right that Bun-Bun isn't being left behind.
She's been with Annie for many years, 
comforting her and helping her get to sleep.

Holding Bun-Bun went hand in hand with thumb-sucking!

Just being near Bun-Bun made everyone suck their thumbs!
(shown here visiting cousins in Alaska)

 Bun-Bun has gone camping with us...

She attended Great-Grandma's 90th birthday party!

She went to the bus stop with Annie on Kerry's first day of kindergarten!

She even posed with Annie on Halloween!

Bun-Bun went for many stroller rides.

She played with Annie every day.
Notice how nice and pink Bun-Bun was back then!

Sometimes Annie would make a nest in the laundry basket and sleep with Bun-Bun.  

This is Bun-Bun playing at Grandma's house!

Other stuffed animals have come and gone,
but only Bun-Bun went the distance.

And now Bun-Bun is going to college!
Imagine that!