Monday, December 22, 2014

A Million Ways

The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one's 'own' or 'real' life.  The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one's real life - - the life God is sending one day by day.
- C.S. Lewis 

I hope your final week before Christmas was pleasant.  I finished reading Pride and Prejudice last Tuesday evening, let it marinate Wednesday, discussed it at length with the book club ladies Thursday night, & then officially laid it to rest (for now), with this bit of purging I posted Friday morning.  You may've missed it, as rare are the weeks I post twice, but when something needs to be said, often it needs to be said post haste (a lesson that is reinforced in Pride and Prejudice).  So, peruse at your leisure.  By leisure, I mean whenever you find yourself sitting around with nothing else to do, or you're trying in vain to find sleep late at night, read it then, because as you likely know, what I consider to be pressing is often incongruous with others' definition of "urgent."

So, Christmas is upon us.  I haven't gushed about him much this season, but I think it goes without saying that I've been hitting Michael Buble's Christmas album hard.  I have, however, been mixing it up some this year & listening to the Carpenters' Christmas album.  What a tremendous loss to all who can hear that it's not possible for Michael Buble & Karen Carpenter, truly two of the purest voices I've ever heard, to collaborate.  If those two cut a Christmas album, there would be hordes of Jews snuffing out their menorahs.  I kid you not.

Trey has always said that some of his most vivid childhood memories are of riding around in his mom's Ford Aerostar van, listening to the Carpenters, & so I figure not only am I exposing the kids to fantastic music, but a little part of their heritage as well.  There are endless goodies on the Carpenters' Christmas album (I believe the official album title is Christmas Portrait), one of which is the classic, "Home for the Holidays," which suggests, If you want to be happy in a million ways, for the holidays you can't beat home sweet home.

It's not a new song, & certainly that's a line I've heard many, many times over the years, but I guess there's just something about Karen Carpenter's velvet voice caressing the words that has me thinking.  It is quite possible the endless hours indoors are playing tricks on my mind, & in a desperate attempt to retain my sanity, I am overanalyzing the obviously simple lyrics to a Christmas song.  I've been known to overanalyze.

Either way, what follows is a list of one million things that make me happy.  Okay, not really one million, but as I've listened to the song, & listened to the song again, mentally calling Ms. Carpenter out for the use of hyperbole, I've decided if I had to, I think I could generate a list of one million things that make me happy.  Who doesn't want to be happy in a million ways?  I am fortunate, because I am.

My list of one million would include the most minuscule of details.  In the day to day life of a mom of little people, the minuscule details are sometimes what matter.  There are days when they are all that matter, because you don't have the time or energy to focus on the big picture, & so you find your joy not in a clean house, or a stack of graded papers, or the book you finished reading, or the nutritious dinner you fixed that everyone ate & enjoyed, but in the tiny victories.

Without further adieu, because I know you need to cook & shop & wrap & read my thoughts on Jane Austen, here are a few of my million ways you can't beat home sweet home . . . photos provided when appropriate/available:

One: Henry wearing footed pajamas.  I don't know what I'm going to do with myself when no one in my home wears footed pajamas.  I guess I can try & get Trey interested in them.  In addition to footed pajamas, Henry's also wearing a crown in this pic.  Just go with it.

Two: The small, white dots of Henry's milk that have dried on my stained concrete floors, mapping his many journeys round the house.

Three: Continuing with the floor theme, crayon marks on my concrete floors . . . because only fools color on the restrictive paper the adults provide.

Four: Two words that always bring boundless joy: New rug.  I don't have any pictures of the rug in its new setting in my home . . . I might can make that happen later, but here's a link to it, for those who're interested.  It looks like I made a good decision ordering when I did, as I see that it's currently out of stock, & is now priced higher than what I paid.  I feel so validated.  Also, if you're interested, I can share with you what I've learned about the difference in hand-tufted & handmade wool rugs.

Buying rugs (or anything, really) online makes me nervous, & so I waste hours of my life doing copious research.  But you know what?  Every day, I see my new rug (& also the coordinating smaller rugs in the kitchen).  I walk on my new rug, & I love it & it makes me happy, unlike the former, cheap-o rug that occupied the space & made me angry with every glance, with every step, & I think that maybe my online research was not in vain.  If it's something you're going to look at every day, repeatedly throughout the course of the day, it's important to take your time & choose wisely; this advice works for everything from selecting a rug to selecting a spouse.

Five: Blood test strips & other diabetes paraphernalia Trey leaves on the counter:

The above is the sight that greets me every morning when I stumble into the kitchen to hit the power button on the Keurig.  You know me well enough by now to make a pretty educated guess regarding my feelings about trash on the countertop . . . when there is a large, lidded trash can a few feet away (like literally four feet away).  However, every morning, I scoop all this up, toss it in the trash, & say, "Thank you, Lord, for another night of sleep for Reagan, for another morning for her, for a husband who dutifully checks her number overnight."  

Six: While we're on the subject of messes, next on the list is: the bathroom sink after Trey has brushed his teeth.  Trey would've never made it in the CIA; I always know when he's brushed his teeth, washed his hands, or made a sandwich.  Like his son, he stamps himself all over the house so that, even when he's out of sight, he's never out of mind.

Seven: Glitter on Reagan's bed that was shaken loose from her costumed friends who attended her recent birthday party.  I almost got the vacuum & the needed attachment out to vacuum it all off the bedspread, but decided it can wait . . . admittedly a decision fueled by equal parts nostalgia & laziness.

Eight: This pile of crayon wrapper debris on the kitchen floor:

When asked, Reagan explained that she had to remove the paper from the crayons because she needed to see all the color.  I choose to embrace this as a philosophical answer, rather than another manifestation of her tendency to unwrap anything & everything.    

Nine: Reagan's smile upon receipt of a birthday card in the mail, a card addressed to Miss Reagan E. Zeigler.  So official!:

Ten: Flowers that are still perky a week & a half after Reagan's party.  If you're doing the calculations in your head, yes, they were still in mint condition when I welcomed the book club ladies.  I think Jane Austen would be proud of my efforts; she'd likely say that, my hospitable efforts have not been in vain.

Eleven: Slowly deflating balloons leftover from Reagan's birthday party that bob up & down the hallway, in & out of rooms, & give me heart palpitations at least once a day, usually when I bump into one in the darkened kitchen when I'm up to check Reagan's number at midnight.

Twelve: This mug, given to me by a friend in celebration of Reagan's first A1C in May of this year (which, to refresh your memory, was a 6.8):

She read the good A1C news on the blog, saw this while out shopping & thought of me, & bought it.  I think of her (& the 6.8) every time I use it, which has been often lately since it's a deep mug & perfect for hot chocolate.   

Thirteen: The ornament pictured below. . . from multiple angles so you don't miss any of its awesomeness.  This was given to me by a friend last Thursday night when the book club met.  I think it may be my favorite ornament ever; it's sitting on my nightstand at present, as I am taking no chances with it on the tree with Henry lurking nearby.  She printed off small versions of book covers from various books we read this past year & made the ornament herself.   I am not a crafty person, so I can't explain the process to you beyond the, "printed copies of book covers off the Internet," phase.

Look, see, it's A Farewell to Arms! - - 

I love this ornament so much.  It is beautiful, & I also love what it represents, by which I mean my friendship with its maker, & what I learned from reading the books represented, & the memories made discussing each book with friends.  We read a lot of great books this past year, several that just punch you in the gut & confront you with the worst, but also often the best, of humanity.  Frustratingly, I feel I can't find the right words to express how much I love my book club ladies (which is ironic, I guess, since words are sort of our thing).  I value our time together, & need the wisdom & encouragement I get both from what we read, & from our discussions of it.  We need a Book Club Across America movement.  BCAA, if you will.  I honestly believe if people read more (& read things they normally would not pick up, which is one of the many benefits of a book club), & shared their thoughts on what they'd read with others, drastic societal changes would take place.  Basically, I'd like to send us all back to lit class, with a more flexible reading list, & coffee.  Perhaps more on this later as I ponder the formation of the BCAA.

Fourteen: This children's book my mom gave me Reagan.  It's a Pride and Prejudice counting book!

Fifteen: My half-off Hobby Lobby find . . . which you'll see momentarily. 

Last Tuesday, I woke up feeling brave . . . which essentially means I slept well the night before, & enjoyed two, maybe three, cups of coffee Tuesday morning with no major child-related interruptions.  We needed groceries, & so I got us all dressed & strapped in the car.  Our first stop was The Creamery for lunch.

Then, since it's right next door & we could walk a few feet & be inside the store, we headed to Hobby Lobby to do some browsing.  I was rewarded for my bravery with this:

Isn't it beautiful?  I haven't hung it anywhere yet, & will likely mull that over for about six months before I put hammer to nail.  If you're wondering, I pushed a buggy loaded down with both kids with one hand & hauled this up to the register (using one arm).  If you see me around & you're interested, you can ask to feel my biceps; Henry has them as toned as they've ever been (or ever will be).  The first thing out of everyone's mouth when they lift him is, "He's heavy."  Last week, at the kids' Christmas party at church, I picked up a toddler who was born just a few months after Henry, & it's a wonder I didn't launch her over my shoulder she felt so light in comparison. 

(If you're curious, we did buy groceries Tuesday after my Hobby Lobby triumph.  Also, I cooked dinner that night.  Then I loaded the dishwasher, & folded a ton of clothes . . . my domestic glory knew no bounds that day).  

I encourage you to think about what would populate your list of a million ways.  While I am not an interior designer, I'll leave you with a little tip that I think has merit: Whether you are the only one who regularly sees it, or you are home most of the time with your small kids, or you frequently entertain numerous guests, make your home a warm, happy place (a second tip: new rugs are a great way to begin the happy, warm home process).

To all my readers, near & far, those whose names I know & those I don't,  I wish you the merriest of Christmases.  The Lord willing, I hope to chat with you next week about the goings on with our Christmas, & look ahead as we bid this, the year 2014, farewell.  

This would be the ideal place to post a recent family picture if I had one, but I don't.  First on the list of 2015 resolutions: take some family photos.



  1. Great writing Anna! Brandon and Bridget (Culp) have told me about your blog and I'm a big blog reader and writer. Thoroughly enjoyed this post and wish for you and your sweet family a merry Christmas!

    1. Thanks, Mrs. Lea. I love reading (& writing) blogs too. I've been in touch with Brandon through Facebook regarding my daughter's diabetes diagnosis. Merry Christmas to you & your family!