25 Days of Happiness, Day 25: A Fresh Start

Blank slates. Fresh starts. If ever there was a year that needed them, 2016 was it.

Yes, there were many joys. There was an abundance of moments of beauty and happiness and completeness, and I am so very grateful for all of them. At the same time, I am overwhelmingly ready for a chance to breathe and the feeling that we have a chance to start over, even if it is only symbolic.

And so I am ending 2016 with this song, one of my favorites. It is a faith-based song, but even if your beliefs fall in a different direction, I think there’s a world of truth in the words of the chorus:

So go ahead and put the past in the past

Box it up like an old photograph

Don’t have to go back, ’cause that was then

And this is now.

Hope and a whole glittering new year: Happiness Day 25.

25 Days of Happiness, Day 23: The Mensch’s Adventures

One of the biggest highlights of our 2016 began almost a year ago, when we delivered the Mensch to the airport to begin his six month adventure in Peru. (Which was followed by a six week adventure in South Africa. And which involved stopovers in Paris and Amsterdam and included him touring Amsterdam with the Fraulein. But for the sake of this post, we’re sticking with Peru.)more pinkuylluna

There are kids who show you exactly who they are right from the start, and then there are those who don’t really come into their own until they leave the nest. The Mensch is one of that second group. Don’t get me wrong – he did great in high school, was active in a lot of areas, had a ton of friends and was definitely an asset to every group he was involved with. But university was a definite turning point for him. He has blossomed in ways I could never have imagined, and it has been a joy to see him venturing confidently into classes, co-op positions, and new countries. MP plaque

His time in Peru was filled with new friends, new sights, and adventures both welcome and not. (I’m thinking of a particularly nasty incident involving intestinal friends and a long hike. And knowing this kid, he’s only told me the tip of the iceberg.) He has seen places I will never see and learned how to handle situations at every level of the social scale, and he hops between all of them with a grace that astounds me. MP wall

He’ll be finished with his undergrad studies in the summer, and has already set up solid and admirable plans for the months to follow. I can’t wait to see where he’ll land next. MP alpacas

Confidant kids who don’t hold back: Happiness Day 23.

25 Days of Happiness, Day 22: The Best of Friends

Writing has brought me many blessings (including Harrison Ford’s autograph), but without a doubt, the best thing it has given me is the most amazing set of friends. 

I’ve known them all for at least 20 years. That’s a long time and a lot of history. We have our own language and traditions and special foods and inside jokes. We push each other and tease each other and hold each other up. I can’t count how many times I have said that I would not have made it through a book/a heartbreak/a summer vacation without these ladies, and it was infinitely truer this year. On one particularly horrible day I sent out a request for someone else to be my brain because I was incapable of logical thought. And they all came through for me. 

We are silly and smart and supportive and snarky as needed, and I love them all dearly. 

Cherished friends: Happiness Day 22. 

25 Days of Happiness, Day 19: Kitties

We went a long time between pets. Back when the boys were really sneak, we had a bird. Bridget 911. No, I don’t remember why we named her that. She escaped and flew away. 

Then there was the hermit crab phase. Bert and Ernie. They turned out to be not so fascinating. HRH had fish for a while. The Geek had pet flies. (I know. Pathetic.) But we never really had official mammalian pets until we moved and soothed the pain by promising the girls that they could get cats.

Best. Bribe. Ever. 

Fidget and Caesar have totally captured our hearts. They’re not super affectionate – after all, they are cats – but their antics keep us laughing all day. They don’t freak out when people come to visit. They are generally well behaved. And Heaven help me if I try to stay in bed after the alarm goes off. One or both of them will be at my door or on the bed, reminding me that it’s time to fill their bowls. NOW. 

Kitties that race through the house, climb on the table no matter what we try, and bring us abundant laughter and joy: Happiness Day 19.

25 Days of Happiness, Day 18: More Books

In a year with an abundance of changes, it was impossible for my writing life to not have a few tweaks, right? Lucky for me, these were all of the welcome variety.

The big writing change, of course, was a new series – the Calypso Falls books. My creative cover-romanceside was excited to dream up new characters in a new location. My businessy side enjoyed learning how things are done at a different publishing house and with a different editor. It’s been an educational and exciting year, one for which I’m very grateful.

At the same time, it was equally delightful to have the comfort of the familiar in writing more Comeback Cove books. At this point that little town and those people have become very real to me. With changes on so many other fronts, I was more than happy to be able to return to these well-known streets and these beloved characters. Add in an unanticipated but totally squee-worthy development- one which I can’t share yet, but will very soon – and you can count me as one very happy author.

Books both new and known: Happiness Day 18.

25 Days of Happiness, Day 14: The New House.

I must admit that there were times during the months between when we first saw the the new house and when we finally moved in when I had serious doubts. A lot of things went wrong along the way. A lot of unanticipated issues arose, and there were some pretty awful life events happening at the same time. So I wasn’t always as – let’s say, enthusiastic as would have been ideal.

But then we finally moved in. We added our stuff and we painted the door and we unpacked our boxes and we adopted our kitties. We learned about the school busses. We met a neighbour. We made memories. 

Now it is home. It’s a little cramped and I still wish our driveway wasn’t quite so steep, but it is home. 

And I am very glad we’re here. 

New beginnings: Happiness Day 14.

25 Days of Happiness, Day 13: SNL and Alec Baldwin

So, the election. Yeah. Look, I’m not going to say anything, because even though it was supposedly over a month ago, the thing is, it’s still not really over. And things are happening. And I am writing this on Monday night, and by the time it publishes on Tuesday at noon, we could have entered a whole new phase, you know?

It’s not often that you KNOW you are living through history. These days are most definitely one of those times.

But there was at least one good things to come out of the overwhelming HOLY CRAPness of the past few political months, and that was Alec Baldwin. Specifically, Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump on Saturday Night.

Now don’t get me wrong – Kate McKinnon’s Hillary was outstanding. (And shall we talk about the half box of tissues I went through when she sang Hallelujah on the first show post-election?) But Baldwin’s Trump – oh. Masterpiece. A gift to all of us who lived through the aforementioned HOLY CRAPness.

It’s kind of hard to watch this now, but it’s so well done that it’s worth the ache. Watch. Laugh. Remember.

Court jesters of the modern era: Happiness, Day 13.

25 Days of Happiness, Day 11: The Amazon Ad

The Christmas season brings some memorable commercials: the tearjerkers, the funny ones, the ones that leave you grinning from the inside out. And there have been many that I loved this year, including  Mrs. Santa carrying out her own secret missions, and the Heathrow teddy bears. (Dare you to watch them without getting a lump in your throat.)

But the one that I hope will be seen and shared and taken to heart is this one from Amazon Prime. Yes, the product is mentioned. But this commercial is so much more. It’s a call to understanding. It’s an ode to friendship that reaches across barriers. It’s a reminder that we are so much more alike than we are different.

Commercials get a bad rap, and yes, it’s often deserved. But every once in a while there’s one that reaches beyond the expected and seeks to move us closer to our better selves. THis commercial does that.

Thanks, Amazon. You nailed it.

Ads that go beyond: Happiness Day 11

25 Days of Happiness, Day 10: Carpool Karaoke

Okay, Carpool Karaoke has been around longer than this year, I think, but I didn’t see it until this year. So it is definitely one of my moments of happy for this year.

The concept is so silly: interview in the car, with song breaks interspersed. But it’s so funny. And something about it being in the car makes the chit chat feel so much more real, more spontaneous, more engaging. And the car dancing! I mean, who hasn’t spent an afternoon tooling down the road with the tunes cranked and the voices raised? One of my favorite memories from the biannual writing retreats in Erie is of driving home one time with the four of us belting out Paradise By The Dashboard Light. Awesome memories.

I haven’t seen every installment of Carpool Karaoke, but I’ve seen enough to know that my favorite has to be the one with Michelle Obama. Dang but she got into it. And the jokes! “There’s the Oval Office. My husband is in there somewhere.”

Just watch. And smile.

Carpool Karaoke: 25 Days of Happiness, Day 10

25 Days of Happiness, Day 9: We Conquered the Vermonster

This is one of those points of happy that are almost too embarrassing to admit in public. But – deep breath – here we go.

The Geek & Geekess got married in Vermont. Did you know that in Vermont it is illegal to have any kind of celebration that doesn’t include Ben & Jerry’s? Yeah, neither did the Geek until we told him.

Turns out a few of the guests had the same feeling. More than a few, actually. So one of our tasks as parents of the groom became stopping at the closest Scoop Shop for a Vermonster.

For those not in the know, a Vermonster is the ultimate ice cream party food. It contains:

  • 20 scoops of ice cream (your choice of flavors)
  • four bananas (I could have lived without those)
  • three cookies and one brownie, all chopped up
  • hot fudge and/or caramel
  • chopped nuts (I think we didn’t get those – allergies)
  • whipped cream
  • a boatload of toppings (sprinkles! M&Ms! Reeses Pieces!)

And yes, it absolutely comes in a bucket.

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NOW we’re talking.

It made its appearance at the end of the first night, as we hung out in the library with friends and family members that had already arrived. It was sloppy and melty and rich and creamy and utterly disgusting, and I am so beyond happy that we tried it. Because sometimes, you just have to do it.

Conquering the Vermonster: Happiness Day 9.