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.

Friday, December 18, 2015

We Need a Little Christmas

I remember when I was in my early twenties, living in an apartment in Connecticut.  I was happy at my job.  I had lots of friends.  I had a cat of my own.  Still,  I always looked forward to going "home" at Christmas to a house with festive decorations, cookies galore, and my family.

My kids have dealt with some difficulties this year, so putting myself in their shoes,  I want to make our "home" a welcoming, festive place to be.
The thought of getting out all of the boxes of saved decorations from the past didn't excite me because - we all know - what comes out of the basement has to be packed away again in January.  And that's not fun.

I decided to make the decorating more than just removing things from boxes and placing them around the house.  I decided to make most of the decorations out of "natural" things.  No glitz and sparkle - just simple and warm.

Beginning with a fresh tree, I dried orange slices 
and hung them with red ribbon.

The garland was made with felted wool balls, 
with much of the wool coming from my dogs fur!

The house was filled with the aroma of cinnamon
when I was baking these cute scented ornaments.

I strung mini wreaths of cranberries.

Knitting with toothpicks was fun!

These little pinecone elves were easy to make
with some hot glue.

I also used plain pine cones

and shells collected from Silver Sands Beach last summer.

 My favorite ornaments to make were these
Santa gnomes!

Maddie is all-natural and makes any spot in the
house prettier!

I've started collecting these whimsical
Swedish Christmas gnomes which
I have placed around the house.

 Wrapping is simple and organic too.

And candles never fail to warm up the atmosphere.

 Outside we have lights (especially for Adam, the light king).

Giant sugar pine cones on the door.

Pine boughs and pepperberries on the front step.

 A wrapped box on the front bench.

This is the first year I've put lights in my garden in the back yard.
They are controlled by a remote so I can turn them on and off
from inside the house.  This is what I see out my kitchen window!

The stage is set.
But the house is waiting for the finishing touches:
Adam, Kerry, and Annie.

Then it will really be "home".

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Making of This Year's Card

One tradition that remains steadfast is taking a special picture for the front of our annual Christmas card.  Some years, a lot of planning is involved.  This year,  we were just thankful to have a time when the entire family was home together.  That happened to be in September this year.

We didn't plan our clothing in advance - just a sweatshirt would be good enough.  We got the dogs and went on our back deck.  The camera was on a tripod, triggered by a remote control.

I tried manning the remote at first,  but I couldn't get it to fire 
unless I held my arm out.

Annie tried and was more successful at being discrete.

Except for a few canine issues, getting a good enough shot
 was a pretty easy undertaking.

Adam was out of the loop on this one.

Annie was enjoying having control of the shutter.

After finishing with the serious pictures, 
there's always time for a little fun.

This seemed to be Kerry's favorite face this year!

And the 2015 Christmas card photo is...

Love it!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Christmas Past

Christmas celebrations are laden with tradition.
 We outgrow some traditions, like taking the kids to see 
Santa and leaving milk and cookies for him on Christmas Eve.  
Others evolve as the kids mature into adulthood.
But each year is unique in its own way.

1991 was our first Christmas with a child,
and it was very exciting for us after waiting so long for this!

1992 was Kerry's first Christmas!

She didn't know what was going on yet.

In 1993,  Adam loved his Brio train set.

Kerry was just as happy with other things.

Grandma Alice gave the kids a box of Dress-Up clothes 
in 1994, and they played with nothing else!

1995 was Annie's first Christmas.  She was learning to walk
and fell into the coffee table, needing stitches above her eye!

Adam and Kerry continued their love affair with Disney movies.

1996 was Molly's first Christmas (the cat),

American Girl dolls,

and sweater vests for the boys!

1997 was very "red".

It was also the year the kids posed with Santa bellies.

The girls all wore red plaid on Christmas day.

In 1998,  Annie brought her "list" to Santa.

Christmas Eve at Grandma's house.

These are faces of very excited kids coming downstairs 
to see what Santa brought!

In 1999, Adam was a shepherd in the Christmas play at church.

Christmas Eve with the family.

Razor scooters were the highlight of 2000!

Our puppy "Jack" was added to the family in 2001.

Annie was the only one really interested in
leaving cookies for Santa.

Kerry was a huge UConn basketball fan.

I love this picture from our 2002 Christmas card photo shoot!

In 2003, the kids all slept in Kerry's room 
on Christmas Eve.

Adam was thrilled with stuffed animal that Annie sewed for him!

Adam made crepes for Christmas breakfast in 2004.

Mia joined the family (although Jack sadly left us). 

In 2005, Vance got a picture for his office
commemorating the Red Sox world series win.

Sami was a new addition to the family.

Our beloved Mia was very happy to have Sami to play with.

We spent Christmas 2006 in Florida.  It was the last
Christmas my mom was with us.

We spent a rainy Christmas night at Disneyworld.

We also met up with other families from our church
who were also at Disney for Christmas!

2007 was the year of Guitar Hero!  And my father joined us
for his first Christmas without my mom.

From what pictures I could find,  the pets were the
center of attention in 2008!

Of course,  the pets are most often the center of attention
in our family.  Here is 2009!

This is one of Kerry's faces when she doesn't really like
what she opened!

Here is another example, in 2010!
She never wore that hat that Grandma gave her!

After opening presents, we drove to New Jersey to surprise the relatives.

Maddie had joined the family for Christmas 2011.

Adam got a satchel for his semester in Italy.

Kerry made a vase of paper flowers for me!

We drove to New Jersey with our ugly Christmas sweaters.

and Adam got a make-over!

We went to New Jersey once again in 2012 on Christmas day,
but this time dressed as an Amish family in costumes
made by Grandma Alice.

My sister and her family joined us for Christmas in 2013.

2014 was the year of the Charlie Brown tree.

We also celebrated Christmas a week early
so we could all be together.

In just a few more weeks,  everyone will be home
for Christmas this year.  Kerry has to work on
Christmas Eve, but will be catching an early morning
flight to make it home before noon on Christmas morning.

It will be different than other years,
but we can wait to open up presents.
I'm just happy that we will all be together!