A podcaster I listen to--Tsh Oxenreider--ends each of her shows with a segment called "What's Making Me Happy." I like learning about new things that are making others happy, and it makes me happy to think about that which makes me happy. It's just a whole lot of happiness (if you hadn't already picked up on that!). So, here's a list of the mostly minute things that are making me happy this month. I'd love to read about what's bringing you joy--either the material or abstract--so leave a comment below if you feel inclined.
Food: Kale chips. I'm trying to do a better job of eating fresh foods that are in season. Winter is tough because it means less fruit and more root vegetables (nasty). However....I learned from the food coops that I participate in that kale is in season. The stuff tastes disgusting plain, but drizzle on some olive oil and salt and bake it for 12 minutes, and kale transforms into these airy, crispy little boogers that fool my mouth into thinking they're chips. I tend to eat a large baking sheet of these myself...it's the cheater's way to pack in the recommended veggie servings.
Drink: Fair trade coffee. I'm trying hard to purchase only coffee that is fair trade (fair trade often means fair prices paid to growers), which can be expensive. Luckily I've got my local TJ Maxx to help me out. I've recently discovered their excellent selection of affordable fair trade coffees (think $5-7 a bag!).
Podcast: Serial. Last year a co-worker hooked me on this podcast produced by Sara Koenig (also a creator of This American Life). The premise of Serial is that a group of journalists uncover details from one particular story each week...throughout the season the story develops in a way that hook the listeners. Last season was about Adnan Syed; it explored whether he was guilty or innocent of murdering his ex-girlfriend who he had been accused of murdering in the 1990s. It was dramatic, honest, and thrilling and kept me company on several long, cold runs. This season is about a US Soldier, Bowe Bergdahl, a topic of controversial discussion in current events this year.
Book: Integrative Parenting: Strategies for Raising Children Affected by Attachment Trauma. The book is written by some folks from the Attachment and Trauma Center of Nebraska (yay for local writers and researchers!). While I'd rather be reading something else, the book has helped Nate and me through some difficult moments with our children these last few months. The book explains brain development in a way that even my right-brained personality can understand. Additionally, it gives suggestions for creating connections with difficult children, solutions to every challenging behavior we've experienced with our kids (including swearing, defiance, and the ever-loving poop issues!), and how to set boundaries and issue consequences while being attuned to the kids' needs. I'm not quite finished, but I am so ready to read the section on self-care and becoming a happier parent. The book is a great read for any foster/adoptive parent, and segments of the book are wonderful for families and friends of foster/adoptive parents to read; I feel like it would explain why foster/adoptive parents can sometimes be closed off, overwhelmed, chronically tired, or seem to make odd parenting choices.
Music: My Bubba. I found this Scandinavian folk duo on NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts and was mesmerized by their harmonies, softness, and lyricism. Listening to them is like the relaxing sensation of a deep breathe. And since it's the Christmas season, I'll throw this music recommendation out there: Songs for Christmas by Sufjan Stevens--classic Christmas songs with an indie feel and fantastic instrumentation.
Scent: Bergamot oil. Each winter Nate grows a massive beard...it's red and thick and makes him look like a lumberjack. I love it. But I don't love the feeling of sandpaper on my face when he leans in for a kiss or the flakes of dry skin that tend to grace his black jacket. So....we made beard oil! We used a combination of essential oils (using a recipe we found on Pinterest), and the recipe called for bergamot...sweet Lord...bergamot is the best smell. It's citrus-y and sweet with a light floral hint. I dab it on the back of my neck and my wrists each morning and it makes me feel all happy and bright like a My Little Pony doll...it makes getting my children ready for school less painful.