Oh hey, yeah it's me. I'm still alive. Maybe my blogging hiatus is over, or maybe this just a quick foray into MichiGal and then I'll be MIA again. I make no promises. But when my fellow Michigan blogger friend, Ashley from Parsimonious Pash, said she was looking for bloggers to link up for a 12 Days of Happy post, I decided to jump back in. For a minute. Maybe more.
Writing about happy things is always fun, and here are 12 things I'm particularly over the moon about at the moment.
Okay it's the obvious one. But we just had a great Thanksgiving holiday, and now we're looking forward to an equally awesome Christmas time. My cousin from Kentucky came to stay with us for a few days. I saw some other familial peeps I haven't seen in awhile. I spent some time with my godson and his precious baby sister. I found out my aunt does NOT have cancer. My sister sent the kids their annual Trader Joe's Advent calendars (thanks, Grace!). My mom and mother-in-law help me out at every turn and are the best grandmas ever. And my brother-in-law will be here in a couple weeks for a holiday visit. I am just so blessed and grateful to have all these people in my life (including those I did not specifically mention!).
2. Christmas Shopping
I love Christmas shopping. Love love love it. I'm not the most materialistic person, and given a choice I'd generally rather "do" than "have". (Although, remind me I said that when you catch me browsing the Vera Bradley site and ogling all the beautiful patterns and great deals...). But I do love to shop. And this is my annual chance to spoil my kids a little bit and have some fun. I love searching for bargains and trying to find the best prices, and putting lots of thought into the perfect gifts. This year I've been trying to shop local more, although I can't resist the Siren call of Amazon. Especially now that Mathilda's preschool has signed up as an affiliate, so that when we use their link to shop, they get a small percentage of sales. I love her preschool, which is a tiny non-profit with lower than usual enrollment this year, and I know they can use all the funds they can get to help make up for those lost tuition dollars. If you're doing some Amazon shopping, it'd be awfully sweet of you to use their link too! Here it is: Amazon affiliate link.
3. My Gym Membership
My personal splurge is a gym membership. Sure I realize that I could theoretically work out for free by simply walking or running outside, using the hand-me-down exercise bike in our basement, or randomly planking in public places and then posting the photographic evidence on Facebook. However, I know me. And I know that the best way for me to work out is to get out of my house and away from all its wonderful and terrible distractions. I need a place where there is nothing to do but work out. And I especially love and am sort of addicted to working out with my lovely friend, Tina. We have fun. We laugh. It's not boring. Sometimes I don't feel like going to the gym, but I honestly feel like a million bucks every time I leave.
4. My Ancient Mutt
We're not extravagant pet people. Our dog gets a bath like once a year and sleeps on the cold hard floor. But that doesn't mean I'm not crazy about our sweet, sweet Cleopatra, who will be 13 years old this week. She will likely celebrate by placidly lying around while children climb on her, accidentally step on her tail, and try to get her to budge so they can get into the front closet. Maybe she'll get a doggie biscuit or two to mark the festive occasion. We specially picked Cleo out of a litter of rambunctious pups based on her calm personality, and we couldn't ask for a better dog to put up with our family. She gets her tail pulled, she looks sadly at the culprit and continues on her way. She gets stepped on, she lets out a pathetic little whimper and goes back to sleep. She loves to go for car rides and can almost walk around the block without having to be half dragged back to our house. Happy Birthday, Cleo, you've been good to us.
Books have been my drug, and reading my ultimate escape mechanism, for as long as I can remember. I'm pretty much always in the middle of at least one book, and more likely two or three. I read to my kids until I lose my voice, hop from Kindle to "real" book and back again, write book reviews from time to time, visit the library, help organize Lucy and Connor's school book fair, and go to a sort of book club once a week. Sort of because we mostly drink coffee and bitch about our kids, but once in awhile we get in an excellent book discussion too. Books are a huge part of my life, and have taught me so much about the world, about other people, and about myself. Yesterday I picked up two Stephen Hawking books from the library. Don't laugh.
6. My Bed
First let me mention that this list is in no particular order. So being lucky #7 does not mean anything at all, accept that my friends are without a doubt an important part of my happiness dozen. I have some truly wonderful friends who manage to make me feel better about life and the world and everything in it. Some have been in my life for decades, some are more recent additions, but I love them all and am so happy to have them.
8. Rosetta Stone
I think my Life List (see link up top) says something about learning French. If it doesn't, it should. French was my favorite subject in high school, and I started off as a French major in college. But I stopped taking it when I transferred to a community college for a few semesters and found that I'd already leveled out of their French courses. Quitting French has been a long time regret of mine, and now I am finally going to try again. For years I have coveted Rosetta Stone but never wanted or was able to pop that giant tag. Then my wonderful friend Shelly (told you my friends are awesome) posted on Facebook that Rosetta Stone was having a crazy good Cyber Monday deal, PLUS payments could be broken up into five monthly installments (with no penalty!). Immediately I told Chris that's what I wanted for Christmas, and yesterday a beautiful yellow box containing French lessons I-V arrived on my doorstep. My heart is soaring. I am so happy. And no, I'm not waiting until Christmas. I've already started. So have Bethany and Lucy. Bonjour!
Intellectually I know that I won't be birthing anymore babies. But my heart sometimes has a different idea. Chris is fixed and that's a good thing, because I'm pretty sure I could work my powers of persuasion on him and next thing you know we'd be trying to figure out where to put another kid in this house. I recently went to a baptism, with 10 adorable, cherubic little babies being baptized. Ten. In my direct vicinity. I looked at Chris across the pew and mouthed, "I want a baby," to which he responded by giving me an "it sucks to be you" look, and that was the end of it. Although I know that deep down he would love a baby too, and if it weren't for the small matter of a certain surgery, I wouldn't even have to work all that hard to persuade him. At the luncheon after the ceremony, I held that itsy bitsy freshly baptized baby while her parents ate, smelled her scrumptious head and got into my bounce 'n walk groove with no trouble at all. I'm not sure it would have been possible for me to be happier in that moment. Days later and I'm still feeling it. Babies are pure magic.
A couple weeks ago I was in a funk. So crabby. My cure? The Beatles. I tend to listen to the same music over and over again until I move onto the next thing, which I'll then listen to repeatedly. It just makes me unreasonably happy to listen to certain music and I want to keep re-living that feeling.
11. Packages on the Porch
Opening my door and seeing a brown cardboard box (or even better, a stack of them) sitting there kind of gives me that Christmas morning feeling, even though what's in those boxes is rarely for me. It's so much fun receiving packages, knowing what's inside is going to make someone happy. And it's also fun when it's for me. And knowing that a few minutes ordering online saved me tons of time driving around from store to store, that makes me happy too.
Wonderful, mysterious, luxuriously rejuvenating sleep...ahhh! Most mornings I am up and at 'em, but those few and far between days, when I wake up and realize hey! I have nowhere to go, and I can roll over and snuggle down deeper into the covers...those mornings are the best. The rare treat of a nap also brings me immeasurable pleasure, especially if the stars align and my kids leave me alone long enough to actually fall asleep. That is an utterly beautiful thing.
What's making you a happy camper these days? I'd love to hear all about it! Also, if you are a blogger, head over to Parsimonious Pash and link up!