Monday, December 28, 2015

Little Things

Little things comfort us because little things distress us. 

- Blaise Pascal 

I'm going to cut to the chase & tell you that this post is about me eating chocolate when my kids play with play-dough. Get your thesaurus out because obviously this will be deep.

That's the short version of our Christmas.

I'll give you a slightly longer, pictorial version, however, the absence of a schedule + mounds of new toys cluttering my home + a Harry Potter movie marathon on ABC Family = blog neglect, & just neglect in general.

I'm going to do what I always do when I feel overwhelmed, & that is make a list. 
So, here's our agenda:

(1) A summary of Christmas merriment
(2) Brief reflective thoughts on the year 2015
(3) A list of my resolutions for 2016

Sorry to break it down like that, so dry & business-like, but there's zero structure in my life right now & if I don't give this post a solid backbone, it'll get ugly fast, much like I do absent the structure a schedule provides. 

So, Christmas.

As is likely the case for many of you, Christmas, while allotted one designated day on the calendar, is not limited to one day for us; it's a rolling event. Ours began last Monday, I suppose. Papa was out of town last Monday night & so the kids & I joined Nana & Jessica & Maisie for a sleepover, the highlight of which (for the kids) was the opening of one gift on Monday evening.

The highlight for me, if you're curious, was the fried shrimp, catfish, & turnip greens from Scott's we ate for dinner.

(See: Ugly Fast!) 

Tuesday afternoon, Reagan baked with Nana while Henry slept in the stroller I pushed while I exercised. 

It was late in the day Tuesday when the kids & I finally made it back to our house, & not a moment too soon, as I discovered, since Trey had remembered to feed the dog, but neglected to refill her water dish. It's likely she slept nearly the entire time we were gone, & she seemed just fine when we returned home, but still, dogs need water. The dog's water bowl is small, & men are big picture people.

I don't recall much about Tuesday evening. I believe I wrapped some gifts. Wednesday, Thursday, & Friday are all a blur, a happy, tired, blur. Wednesday evening we met my parents & Jessica & co. for pizza at Johnny's & then did Christmas at my parents' house.

Sad fact: the stunning live tree we all selected the day after Thanksgiving didn't make it until Christmas. It was dying & emitting a smell that sickened my mother, so it got the heave-ho a few days before Christmas. So, we had a wall of presents for the children.

Trey was home on Thursday morning, which is of course not the norm, & so I took advantage of the holiday & left him with the kids while I bought groceries & ran a few other errands, which of course is code for, "I dilly-dallied in order to spend more time alone in the car with Adele."

I returned home to find Trey having a little bit of a meltdown about all the stuff in our house. We came home from my parents' house Wednesday night & dumped all our loot on the kitchen table & went to bed, as people do. I walked in the door, arms full of groceries, & heard things like this: Whose is this?! You can't even sit & eat at this table, & we're going to be bringing more stuff home tonight!

I kept my game face on & reiterated all that he'd told the children, but inwardly I was like, Welcome to my world, buddy. Every. Single. Day. The. Clutter. Returns. It really gets under your skin when you're here with them all the time instead of eating lunch at nice restaurants with adults who cut their own food! I didn't say any of that. Aloud. I did have a little party in my head though.

We did manage to clean off the table. Nothing was resolved, at least not to my satisfaction, but knowing the deluge of presents would continue that evening into Christmas morning, I (temporarily) backed off.

Christmas Eve was spent at Trey's parents' house.

The kids & Uncle Dow blowing the
Yule Log on the TV . . .
because of course it was eighty degrees outside
& there was no possibility of a real fire.

Henry loves clocks.

Enjoyed one of my Christmas presents on the drive home.

Christmas morning:

Annnnnd we ventured north to my Aunt & Uncle's house for the Christmas finale:

Henry took a little nap on the way. 

Christmas 2011:

Christmas 2012:

Christmas 2013:

Christmas 2014:

So, that was our 2015 Christmas (& a snapshot of Christmases past). When you're young, you're so sad when Christmas is over. I'm not sad Christmas is over. I'm tired, & I might be a little happy about the conclusion of the festivities, & will be happier when the decorations are down & packed & hauled out of sight. I'm particularly eager for the living room to return to normal as I've some big plans for it in the new year (shhhhhh!). In a related story, I've been awaiting Trey's return to work because there's some measuring I need to do unobserved. You'll likely hear more about my plans in an upcoming post titled, "Blues, Greens, & Teal: Yes I Can!"

Trey returned to work today (so measuring & plotting can commence!), but Reagan doesn't return to school until January 5 (& I don't return until January 12, I think), so the kids & I will welcome 2016 in the same manner in which we're presently seeing 2015 out the door, which is lazily. In pajamas. And, thanks to this wonderful, most welcome change in the weather, beside a roaring fire.

Before 2016 is officially upon us, let's talk about what I did in 2015. I think first & foremost it should be noted that I read the Harry Potter series in 2015, & that alone makes it a noteworthy year. People in publishing talk a lot about world-building & how important it is to create a world your reader simply loves, a world that is interesting, full of mystery, & a place they want to return to again & again. I've never read anyone who does this as well as J.K. Rowling.

Over the weekend ABC Family aired all eight of the Harry Potter movies, & so I finally saw a visual of the world I fell in love with over the summer. In fact, the past few nights I've stayed up really late eating Trader Joe's Peppermint Joe Joe's & watching Harry Potter movies. It has been glorious. Really, after nights like those I've enjoyed recently, where do I go? What do you do to top these evenings? I need an actual answer to this question before I order more Joe Joe's online & purchase all eight Harry Potter films so my blissful nights can continue uninterrupted.

I was in a weird mood one day & added these to my Amazon wish list. Most people opt for books, movies, maybe socks, but I'd ordered these in the past & so I threw them on there one day. I forgot I'd done so until I unwrapped them Christmas Eve.

So, Joe Joe's magic aside, I was introduced to two worlds this year that I love & will return to often, & those are Rowling's magical world, & of course, Stars Hollow, home of the Gilmore Girls. If I didn't surround myself with wise, wonderful women, I'd likely still be ignorant of these places & the characters who populate them. I'd always intended to read the Harry Potter series, but had my bookclub not put my feet to the fire, there's no way I'd have attempted the seven-book series at this juncture in my life. A thousand times, thank you, ladies.

Also noteworthy is that I missed zero bookclub meetings this year, & I roped several people into reading The Bronze Horseman series (& they've all thanked me profusely). But, onward & upward, right? A new year is knocking, & there are books to be read & discussed, coffee to be consumed, a president to be elected, & a living room to redecorate. Reflecting on 2015 & looking to the year ahead, I say this: whatever it is you think you don't have time to do, try to do it. Do it now, even though your kids are young, or your job is stressful, or you're tired.

If you've never read them, read the Harry Potter books. Yes, you're behind the rest of the literate world, but so was I, & now here I am, another crazy among the crazies. Read the books, & then find me a babysitter, & we'll spend a weekend in our pajamas eating Peppermint Joe Joe's & watching all eight movies. I mean unless you're not cool with me in my pajamas, & then, well then you're probably not someone I'd enjoy watching eight movies with anyway.

If you've read the Harry Potter books, read something of C.S. Lewis's that you've never read. The book club is beginning the year with The Screwtape Letters. It's a short book (which is welcomed after the tome that is Jane Eyre), but one I am sure will generate another amazing bookclub discussion. We've mapped out our year in books, & I'm excited about where we're headed. I will, of course, relay anything noteworthy to you, dear reader, because I know the only thing more exciting than attending a bookclub meeting is reading about me attending a bookclub meeting. A greater vicarious thrill there is not.  

I feel I should have some grand plans for the blog in the upcoming year. I mean did you notice above that I've figured out how to caption pictures? And it only took me five years to realize that option is available to me. I could change the layout, I guess, but I still like all the books. I'd change it, & then hate it an hour later & change it back. Do you have any ideas? Topic suggestions? Trivia games? Do let me know. Otherwise it's pictures of my kids & living room throw pillow options to ring in the new year.

My 2016 goals are small, I suppose. Obviously I'm planning to attack some issues in the living room that I can bear no longer. I plan to read The Screwtape Letters; it'll actually be a reread but it's been a long time since I sat down with that book. There are some changes (of a scholastic nature) coming down the proverbial pike later this year for me & the kids that we will discuss at a later date, so if you needed one, there's your reason to return to me in 2016. Obviously you know, if you're current on your blog reading, that I am working to bring down Reagan's A1C, which will be revealed again in March. "Bring down child's A1C" is not so small of a feat, really, & is likely the reason I feel too drained to make many grand resolutions.

Resolutions are wonderful, but they don't have to be grand, sweeping items on a list populated by things there's little chance you'll accomplish. Make a list of little things you'd like to change, be they actions or words you need to include in your day, or eliminate from your day. Tell your kids & your spouse you love them every day; say it out loud. Stop saying certain words you'd prefer to eliminate from your vocabulary. They don't have to be curse words (though those are a great place to start!), but words you don't want to hear come our of your kids' mouths, or words that simply connote negativity (like play-dough). If you know there's no way you're going to make it to the gym four times a week, or read Tolkien, start with what comes out of your own mouth. Conquer your tongue, & then those trips to the gym may not seem so far out of reach.

Don't get up on January 1st & foolishly attempt to run five miles or eat kale all day. Whether it's your waistline or your vocabulary you're trying to change, start small. Inch by inch, word by word, just start, & keep going, & maintain balance in your life.

I'll end (the post & the year) with a line from The Screwtape Letters.

All extremes, except extreme devotion to the Enemy, are to be encouraged.

The minion of Satan who composes the letters that comprise the epistolary novel explains that, unless a Christian is obsessively devoted to Christ (the Enemy), obsessions are good & to be fed. Little things (like play-dough & small toy parts) that vex us need to remain little things, as do the little things that bring us comfort, like Joe Joe's & online shopping. Anything can become an unhealthy obsession. Eating, or eating well. Harry Potter. Online shopping. Toy organization. Clean floors. The list could go on & on.

I feel that I am rambling (I am a word junkie, in addition to my Joe Joe's problem). I'll say this & bid the year adieu: Make some realistic resolutions & strive to keep them, small steps that can possibly have a big impact. Remember this, & I'll rephrase Lewis here: All extremes, except extreme devotion to your Lord, are to be discouraged. Little things are little things; resolve to keep them in their place.

Thanks for reading, thanks for commenting, thanks for encouraging me by letting me know I encouraged you. Happy New Year, reader, &, the Lord willing, we'll reconvene in 2016.


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