Finding Joy in 2016

A lot of people have commented over the last few months about what a stinktastic year 2016 has been.  Entire late-night skits have been written hating on 2016, and with good reason.  It's been the most challenging year for so many.  From a strange election season (which I am not commenting on), to big celebrity deaths, to world-wide unrest, too many people I love with health concerns, there's just a film over 2016 for just about everyone.  I starting this year with a post called Spreading Joy and gosh darn it, I am not going to pile onto 2016, I am going to spread joy all the way to the end.

I decided to look at each of the four seasons, and pick out the Best moments of joy.  So here goes:

-Celebrating six years gluten free.
-Having Running Daddy's uncle and the Sweet Boy's great uncle (and also his hero) come from Chicago and then watching your son win the player of the game that weekend.
-Only one major snowstorm.  Just enough, no snowmageddon.
-A great hockey team filled with nice families, Good kids and the Best coaches.
-Watching the Sweet Boy win his hockey championship and smiling a little as the only team they lost to this season was the all-girls team.
-Reconnecting with your childhood friend after a very long time.  Thank you Facebook.
-Attending Dare to Be with Natalie Grant and Charlotte Gambill, and while it was a little out of my comfort zone it made an impact.
-Knowing just which friend would attend Dare to Be with me.  

-A lacrosse team made up of the Best boys who took their second place tournament win with grace, it was a tough one.
-A lacrosse coach so Good, that a parent of the winning team stopped us getting Slurpee's to tell us how impressed she was with him and that he was a role model for all coaches.  Yup, he's the Best.
-A Sunday Fun Day lacrosse pool party that just thinking about makes me smile.  Eleven year old boys slurping oysters....priceless.
-The Mount Vernon Spring Wine Festival where it stopped raining just in time to celebrate Running Daddy's birthday.
-Having the Sweet Boy tell me this was his Best year in school and the reason that made it his Best year was his teacher.

-A camp carpool filled with silly sweet boys.
-Walking into the last day of basketball camp and hearing the coach of a very prestigious boys school tell these kids, it's really all about your grades and that basketball will only take you so far.  Thank you coach, you are a Good man.
-Back to the beach with our friends and the Best hometown 4th of July parade ever.
-Hanging out with the Sweet Boy's kindergarten teacher and her family on the 4th of July.
-Finding Good dog trainers who take your once rambunctious but sweet dog and three weeks later turn him into the dog you always knew he could be.
-The Sweet Boy's pool party which was simple, but he said was the Best party he ever had.

-Bad Lax Moms happy hours at the Inn and a group of ladies who make me laugh.
-Lake house happy hour fires, bonfires and breakfast fires.

-The happiest this dog has ever been and the fact that he is so Good now we can bring him on vacation.
-The first crab cake I have eaten in a restaurant in 7 years thanks to Dutch's and their no filler crab cake.
-Seeing the Sweet Boy play a shepherd in Lessons and Carols this year.
-Holidays with food, wine, family, grandparents who are about to be great grandparents, sister who is about to become a grandmother, kids, and friends who are like family.

So see, 2016 you were not all bad.  There were lots of moments of Good and joy.  Thank you to all of you who helped make the moments of Good this year.  Here's to 2017 being the Best.

Feel free to leave me your Good, Better, Best moments of 2016 in the comments below.


Christmas Download 2016

I LOVE CHRISTMAS.  I am also a type A person who has spent the majority of my day job career working special events.  Christmas love + type A personality + special events background = the want and need for this time of year to be special.  Now I am not the type that wants everything to be perfect but I do want things to be nice.  I don't bake the perfect cookies, in fact I only bake cookies for this one special cookie party that we go to every year.  Other than's the Pillsbury pre-cut sugar cookie version but Santa seems to think they are Good. I want a nice tree from the sweet church around the corner where basically the same nice man has helped us for the last five year.  Christmas only comes once a year, and I know that the real reason for the season is the birth of Jesus, and that is something that is very dear in my heart.

Since 2016 is being so weird, right everyone, things just didn't totally go the way that I planned in many ways, so I wanted to do the old "Pause and Learn" that I do after every big event at work.  Even if I am the only person who ever reads this, while this was a Good Christmas, I wanted to get my thoughts down on paper to help for next year to make things Better in 2017. Because 2017 has got to be Better....right?

1) Don't get sick: Yeah, I started with a scratchy throat about 10 days before Christmas which developed into asthmatic bronchitis five days later...five days before Christmas if you are doing that math.  Ugh.  Asthmatic bronchitis is not easy to get rid of and especially challenging with my health problems.  Nothing says Christmas like asthmatic bronchitis.

Image result for friends monica sick i'm fine

2) Shop early: I actually like Christmas shopping and choosing a perfect gift for the people I love,   such as Gentry Bourbon for Running Daddy or a small luxury item that I know is out of the budget for someone. For the last three years or so I have gotten up and gone Christmas shopping on Black Friday at 5 am.  I am not a "Door Busters" person, I just need the time...alone.  I hit the outlets near our house which are not crowded at that time of day and then the running store near our house has a great sale until 8 am where everything in the store is 30% off.  Merry Christmas to Running Daddy.  I need to keep doing this.

3) Start the wrapping early or hire someone: I don't enjoy wrapping, I know some of you do, I do not.  Last year I hired our babysitter to do the family wrapping and it was the Best idea. Next year I need to start wrapping the things I buy Black Friday that weekend or hire someone again.  Why?  See #1.

4) Decorations come out Thanksgiving weekend: Ours didn't come down until a couple of weeks later, and it just put us behind.  I am not a person who thinks that Christmas decorations should come down before Thanksgiving, if you do I am not judging.  In our house, we need to take everything down for the inside and outside on Thanksgiving weekend.  We have the time, we need to use it Better.

5) Don't underestimate a Stouffer's lasagna: Did I mention I was sick?  So Friday morning I was trying to figure out what to have for dinner.  Yes, even I struggle with this from time to time.  My parents were in town and while they don't care what I fed them, I have the need to feed them.  I decided I would go to Wegman's because surely they must have a Good pre-made lasagna that I could just heat up.  I would find a gluten free option for myself and I would be Good to go. So I headed into Wegman's two days before Christmas, normally paradise for a food lover like me, but it was a madhouse.  I expected it to be so but there were people everywhere.  I meandered over to the prepared food case to pick up the lasagna.  There was a nice young man there putting more food out so I asked him if they had lasagna.  They were sold out.  Apparently I am not the only one that has the Good idea of lasagna this time of year.  He told me that if I want one around the holidays I should really order one.  Good to know.  I looked and him and said with a slightly disturbed look on my face "Should I get a frozen one?"  He told me to go get the big Stouffer's one and just add fresh Parmesan cheese and that it will be pretty Good.  Um, apparently he was right, even though I could not eat it.  Everyone raved about it and the Sweet Boy said it was the Best lasagna he ever had.  Who knew?

6) Hallmark Channel movies: Anyone who knows me know I love the Hallmark Channel .  Because I am challenged a lot with my lupus, I need to lie down some on the weekend.  When I was really struggling a few years ago, I would put on the Hallmark Channel and these sweet stories were comforting to me.  I like that I can watch them with the Sweet Boy and not worry about the content.  I like that people are generally kind to one another.  These movies are the Best and seriously our whole family loves them. I start watching the Christmas ones the moment they start showing them.   Leave me a comment if you want to know my favorites.

7) Remember the meaning of Christmas: I am usually so Good about this.  Being so sick, all I could really think about was how to get Better and wonder when I would stop coughing.  This slow week is a Good week to stop and think about the birth of Jesus.  So many times recently I have prayed for guidance and even for the right words, and when the time comes, He gives me the right words.  He is so Good.

So this is my Christmas download 2016.  I plan on referring to this next fall and hope that you all found it helpful too.  Feel free to leave me comments on things that you do to have the Best Christmas.

PS--I have been floored at the number of page visits I have been getting lately.  I appreciate each and everyone of you who read my blog, follow Good Better Best Food on Twitter and Facebook.  Feel free to subscribe as well so you never miss a post.
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