Holiday Hodgepodge

Last week, there were a few days where I caught myself thinking, "Argh, the holiday season is SO stressful." The combination of shopping, baking, and wrapping on top of the normal studying, grading, planning, etc. is just pure madness. I feel like I'm traveling 1,000 miles an hour, flustered and panicked, while all the great holiday season days slip right on by. So, though I have (you guessed it) many papers to grade and a homework assignment to complete tonight, I'm going to take a moment to stop and smell the roses- er, pine needles- of the holidays. Here's what is making me happy these days:

CHRISTMAS IN A WINDOW It's my favorite thing - big, colorful lights shining out onto a snowy night. I love driving by and seeing my windows lit up, welcoming me home. Plus, they're super easy to hang up, in contrast to the ordeal that is decorating a tree.

BROCCOLI SOUP I can't get enough of this soup. Last month, it was microwave-baked potatoes (I know, sad), but this month, it's broccoli soup! Here's the recipe:
It freezes well, is mostly healthy, and is packed with flavor (don't leave out the croutons).

WARM SOCKS, cozy sweaters, and cute (but comfortable) shoes.

BOOKS Even though I'm ridiculously busy, I still try to set aside 15-20 minutes for reading, right before I go to sleep. It's deliciously comforting, the prospect of a good book and flannel sheets waiting for me each night. My latest is Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger, and I've also started Patrick Swayze's autobiography. I just finished The Lovely Bones (awesome) and, a while back, The Sharper the Knife, the Less You Cry. With a holiday break approaching, I'm looking forward to revisiting old favorites, too - Gooberz by Linda Goodman, and A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains by Isabella Bird. Ah, I love reading!

"GLEE" Seriously, I love this show. It's upbeat, witty and smart. I love how in a single episode, like last week's, will leave me laughing and crying in the span of 45 minutes. I love how old songs are given new life in each episode; I love the endearingly wacky characters.

BRONCOS games on my television each Sunday.

SILLY STUDENTS ...who make me laugh on a daily basis. Lately, the 8th graders have started a new trend of saying "Skiiiiiiiiiiii" (skee) in class, to which I'll respond, "NO SKI!" and we all crack up. It's so ridiculous, but reminds me of the fun, nonsensical part of being young. Each day with these kids is a delight, truly - I really love my job.

HANSON We are all defined by memories and experiences in life, and because of them, we cling to the tangible things that remind us of who we are. For me, it's music. Each memory has a song; each experience a playlist. Hanson is unique in this because they've filled the soundtrack of my life for 13 years, unfailingly. They have figured out how to make new, fresh music that still remains "Hanson-y." And above the music, they are people who strive to improve the world and inspire others to join them. It's a great thing when you realize that your favorite celebrities are actually good people, too.

"SCOO" a.k.a. EDITH She purrs and paws the blankets on my bed before snuggling into my side, and sneaks up behind me to attack my foot ferociously. She likes to hang out in the tub after I've showered, and follows me around like a shadow. She's furry and funny and the warmest part of home. It doesn't feel as lonely with Edith here, that's for sure.

AMAZING PARENTS, friends, and coworkers !

SCUM + Ph.D ...means that I get to talk to my sister a lot. For the first time in a really long time, she's actually available on a daily basis for advice, witty banter, vent sessions, and general hilarity. Her sarcastic text messages alone have put her in high demand with my friends, who all insist on meeting her immediately. I'm lucky to have such an incredible sibling.

LOVE that radiates from 1000 miles away. I'm used to living alone at this point, yes, but I really miss Morgan. It's strange to remember that he used to live here; it seems like a long time ago. As much as I want him to come home, I know that he's forging a path for his future - one that I'm a part of - so it will all be worth it one day. In the meantime, I'm glad for the small handfuls of time that I do get to spend with him. He is the kindest person I've ever met.

Happy holidays to all :)

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