Each day, I have the kids write in their homeschool journals. Sometimes the topic is based on something we did the day or the weekend prior, sometimes the topic is something from a movie or television show they'd recently watched, sometimes it's just a random prompt.
Today, I had them make a list of 25 things that make them each happy. They eagerly complied, which isn't always the case I assure you.
They both told me that I needed to make a list too.
Perhaps we all should.
1. My husband. I know, I know, I know....people write mushy things about their spouses all the time on the internet and it is super annoying, but I'm not generally a mushy person. I'm particularly not mushy about our relationship, not often anyway. Our story is one that started nearly 24 years ago, nearly ended a few times and got us to where we are now. It's not perfect, what we have. It's messy and complicated and we've both picked up some baggage along the way, but we're still traveling together. By choice. With intention. And things are just different now, but in a good way.
2. My kids. I could cop out and give them each their own number here on this list, but I won't. When I do tend to write mushy things, those mushy things tend to be about them. I look back on who I was before they came, revisit the time when I wasn't sure we'd ever be able to have them at all, realize just how fast this all goes, and I'm grateful for this time. A few months ago, we reached the point where all five of them played together. They were playing hide and seek, the teenagers and the baby and the ones in between. I knew in that moment that this time we have with them in this place is so very short, but so far beyond anything I could have ever imagined.
3. My puppy. He drives me absolutely nuts at times. He chews everything up, has a habit of licking my drywall and barks at the wind like it's some mortal enemy. He has to be touching me almost all of the time and follows me everywhere, even to the bathroom. I didn't intend to be his person, but he chose me...and I'm okay with that, especially since I've been teaching him to talk. I know....I have issues.
4. My cat. She's pretty and sweet and rules over the dog like a great and powerful overlord. She stands at the top of the stairs like the majestic Gandalf the great and decrees that he shall not pass. I love love love that she's in charge.
5. My brother. He's going to claim that he doesn't read this, then probably get mad at me when he reads it (like he always does) and sees that I mentioned him. Most of you guys probably don't even know he exists because I try not to write about him at all. He hates it. Oh well, he made the list. Suck it up and deal. He's my reality check, always the first person to tell me when I'm being an asshole. Which is good...because sometimes I get on my high horse and need to check myself. He makes sure I do that. He also taught me to translate autocorrect, because I'd never be able to understand his text messages or IMs without it.
6. My In-Laws. The ones that I just call Mom and Dad these days, they are the only parents I have left anymore. Lucky them, eh? They're always ready to drop anything if I need them and they make sure that they get lots of quality time with the kids. I adore them.
7. My fans. Like 99% of you, like 99% of the time. I mean, as long as you aren't telling me I need bathed in holy water, that is...
8. Warm sunshine. Especially this time of year, I love that ball of fire in the sky. Don't ask me how much I love it in August, though. For now, though, especially in the land of PPD and all the other shit going on in my head, I need the sunlight. It keeps me marginally saner.
9. Water. I'm an Aquarius, through and through. I am a water person, always have been, always will be. I stand in the rain on purpose. I don't even own an umbrella. I don't have a raincoat either. Don't need one. When life gets chaotic, the water calls me. It tells me to come and sit beside it, figure out the things in my head. It is my calm. It is my center.
10. Homebrewing. I'll warn you now that there are going to be a few things on this list involving beer, so get used to it. The first is the homebrewing, this little hobby we picked up four years ago now. At first, it was a desperate grab at something, anything, that the two of us could do together. Plus, beer. Now, it's just a part of who we are.
11. Music. Almost all of it. I need background music all the time, or it'll be playing in my head anyway. I love so many different genres of music, so many different styles, and I love exposing my kids to all of it.
12. Yoga pants. I really do love them, even and especially if they aren't actually pants. I live in them, and with homeschooling I really have no reason to get dressed until the afternoon, which is fine by me.
13. Cooking. I really do love to cook, and I'm damn good at it these days. Now, if the dishes could just wash themselves, that'd be great....
14. Forcing myself to be uncomfortable. This is a weird thing to be on a list like this, but it belongs here. Lately, I've forced myself to do a few things that made me almost vomit. Left to my own devices, I'd become a hermit somewhere far away from other people. I mean, really....all I need is internet and Amazon Prime delivery, and I'd be good. BUT I WOULDN'T BE GOOD and I know that. I need human interaction and to get it, I have to force myself to do it. So I am going to a conference this fall and I'm working as a quizmaster now and the mere idea of either or both makes me throw up in my mouth a little bit, but I'm always so damned proud of myself afterwards that I know it is worth it.
15. Painting. I really do love to paint. I come by it honestly, got this weird obsession from my grandmother. When things in her life got chaotic, she hauled out the high gloss white paint and painted and painted and painted. I do the same thing, though with less sheen and more color variety. Same reasons, same outcome. There aren't many things in life that we have the power to change almost instantly - but a paintbrush gives you at least the illusion of greatness for a minute.
16. Writing. It doesn't always make me happy. I've spent many, many, many hours crying over keyboards. I crave it though, can't live without doing it for any length of time. Every once in a while, though, I impress myself. Sometimes with my words themselves, sometimes with the power those words carry in the world, sometimes because of the people who reach out to me. All good things.
17. Sleep. I really love sleep. Sleeping in on lazy weekend mornings, pinned down by a stubborn dog who always has to touch me, surrounded by kids and my husband...it's pretty perfect.
18. Organization. I love to sort things. I love order. My house would tell you a different story, of course, because so many other people occupy this space, but it's not for lack of trying on my part.
19. Nerdy collectibles. I generally detest collectibles, but I've developed a deep adoration for Funko Pops and other little nerdy character collectibles. My windowsill is almost full. They watch me cook and clean and teach. They're my friends. I know, I have issues.
20. Hot showers. I know how terrible hot water is for my skin, especially with all my skin allergy issues. I know. I know that it's not energy efficient, and so I don't do it often. But there is nothing like standing under a shower so hot that it's bordering on painful. Nothing at all. The best.
21. Microbreweries. I know that living where we do means that we are spoiled in this regard, and I'll take it. I love the local craft breweries, with the patios and the flights and the corn hole games. If you've ever wondered what kind of people take their kids to a brewery and hang out for hours on lazy weekends, look no further. We are those people.
22. Cosplay. Freckles asked me a few weeks ago if we needed to start planning for Halloween yet. It's March. I've created a monster, I am afraid, with the costumes. We started it as a bizarre family tradition a long time ago, figuring that it would only last a couple of years before the kids rebelled and refused to join in. Now, they're all in, every year. And yes, we already know the theme for this year. Of course we do. And no, I'm not telling. Besides, we have to deal with Con costumes first...
23. The beach. Living in the middle of the country makes getting to the beach damn near impossible, but when I'm near an ocean, I'm at the beach as much as humanly possible. I could literally sit there all day. The whole day. I need nothing. I'm good.
24. Friends. The good ones. The ones that stick around. The ones that don't think I'm too weird, or at least have embraced it. The ones who don't take my shit personally. The ones who get my jokes. The ones who check on me. The ones in real life and the ones who live in my computer.
25. The cosmic radio gods. I find that I'm angry with them less and less these days, even when they send me a song that makes me miss the people. Instead, I've found that the songs that used to make me sad don't anymore, at least not in the same way. Now, it's more like a fond hello from the great beyond. I don't think it's a mere coincidence that every time I've walked out of an audition or training session for my job, the first song on the radio has been one that reminds me of my Dad.
Your turn. Go. Name 25 things.