Sunday, November 25, 2012


To our babies when you're ready to have families of your own,

Thanksgiving was the 26th of November three years ago. We had just gone for a second ultrasound that confirmed our baby girl was no longer growing and that our due date in July would be no more. Heartbreaking doesn't begin to describe it. About three weeks prior, on the 10th anniversary of your Nana's death, Daddy and I surprisingly learned we were pregnant! It wasn't planned but we were excited. I always had thoughts that I would have trouble conceiving a child and this event did not help my heart feel that things would be easy. Daddy and I spent Thanksgiving with our family. Many of your aunts and uncles were about to bring new babies into the world and I was angry I needed to be around them. Why was He compounded my grief by those who were so joyful?

As I'm sure you'll learn, I believe that everything happens for a reason - the good, the bad, and the downright awful. My favorite verse is that everything has a time and a season. This was a time in my life where I questioned God and why He could do these things. I can only hope that you never, ever have to experience this loss in your lives - but if you do, as much as it may hurt, keep God close. In the days, weeks, and months that followed, I prayed to Him and cursed Him at the same time. My doctor was not helpful either. And when I say not helpful, I mean hurtful. The radiologist wouldn't tell us what the ultrasound showed. We demanded to speak with the doctor. I'll never forget being brought in the main office area, sitting at their phone next to their fax machine, talking with the doctor. Daddy kept his hand on my shoulder. That was the day I learned that once babies die, it's common to say, "The fetus is not viable," as if that makes it easier... I didn't know what to expect and when I asked it felt like I was being sneered at, like, "How could you not know what to do?" I was told if I were to miscarry, I could save "the tissue" in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Yeah - this doctor was not schooled in bedside manner. Daddy took me immediately over to another doctor's office. I cried at the reception window until they accepted me as a patient and agreed to do the surgery to take out your sister.

The few weeks between this and the surgery date were rough. My body was holding on to something we had created but with no life within it. I felt empty. The surgery was the first real one I had ever had and my memory of it was a blur, seeming like a hospital tv show version. After this, EVERYONE seemed to be getting pregnant and while I wanted to be happy for my family and friends, I felt betrayed, even though no one knew.

It took me a long time to open up about this experience and it's still hard to talk about without tears forming. Helpful information for you if you ever come across a family experiencing this loss:
*Remember that you do NOT understand unless it has happened to you.
*Never say, "You're young! You'll get pregnant again!", "At least you were able to get pregnant," or anything similar. Sometimes saying nothing at all is better.

So why am I writing this to you? Again while I pray you never experience anything like this, it does have the power to change your life as it did mine. Women understandably don't talk about these things openly, but when they do, you find out it's unfortunately common. When I began opening up to others, I was amazed that I was not alone. I now know of over 20 family members and friends who have miscarried and sadly, the number continues to grow.

I write this to you to ask you to treasure your family and God's plan. Three months after my surgery, we got pregnant again. One day short of a year to the day we learned about your sister, Liam was born. What a difference a year makes. :) And less than 2 years after that, Grace joined our family. If your sister was not called by God, you wouldn't be here today. I believe she is your guardian angel in heaven watching over you both. I believe this was God's reason. As time continues, I feel closer to God because of it too. I don't pray for things anymore. I always pray first in Thanksgiving and let God know that while I may not understand it, I accept His plan for me always.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Happy Birthday, Bean!


As I sit writing this, I remember that two years ago at this time Daddy and I were stopped by the slowest train on the way to the hospital. So slow in fact that by the time it passed, there was a back up of cars behind us - at 2:30 in the morning! Your labor was sudden, two days before your due date. My water broke, contractions immediately started 5 minutes apart, and you were born 6 hours later. My plans of a natural childbirth quickly crumbled as I told the registration nurse in the lobby that I wanted an epidural - now! :)

You arrived at 7:08AM on November 24th and life hasn't been the same since. You immediately filled a spot in our hearts that we didn't know was vacant. We treasured each first with you and took what seemed like millions of pictures. You nursed well from the start and I now know that those hours we spent together each day forged a special bond that will never be broken between us. While you screamed day and night for the first twelve weeks of your life (this is no joke, ask your grandparents), we learned all their was to know about swaddling, the five S's, and played Natalie Merchant's children's lullabies on repeat.

You turned into a happy baby who tried lots of foods, bobbed around to any kind of music, slept through the night for the first time at seven months. You had no interest in rolling over but wanted to stand and "walk" at six months. You pulled at our hands to pick you up and cried if we sat you down. Once you learned to crawl though you were a speedy little guy and didn't take your first steps until after your first birthday. When you did, we joke that you walked for a few days, then ran, and haven't slowed down since!

You grasped language from the start. You signed for "please" and "more" and sometimes used "thank you" and "light." By the time you got these down, you were talking - and we could understand you. We kept a list of your words but by the time you reached 100 at a little over a year, we stopped keeping track. By then you started using two word phrases, by this summer you had 3 words down, and by the beginning of November, you started speaking in sentences in what seemed like overnight. You definitely have your tantrum moments, but I believe that many instances have been averted because you understand when we communicate with you and, more importantly, you can communicate with us. There is not a day that goes by that I take this for granted. I love talking with you, especially now. We can ask you, "What did you do at Beth's house today?" and you respond with games you played, toys you played with, and the other kids' names. It is SO cool.

You are aware of the things around you. You throw away trash without being told, ask to feed the dog, and let Chloe out the back door by yourself. You cry at the linen closet door when we don't get out the vacuum for you and you love to use your "sweeper" (rake) outside as much as your wagon. Sometimes I think that we need to start paying you an allowance! While there are times you hate by separated from us, you are already an independent child. You get me diapers when I change Grace and take it upon yourself to start up her swing "turn song on?" and lovingly say, "Don't cry, Grace!" while I get her milk ready. Last week, you actually got her to stop crying - on your own. You amaze me every day.

You are beginning to laugh at things that older children find funny and you can recognize when someone is sad. You give hugs and kisses freely and have begun (in the past few months) to take an initiative to cuddle us. We love it. <3 You are shy in new situations and with people you don't often see. You are starting to warm up more quickly though. We love to watch you play with your cousins and share your trucks and other toys. I like to linger at daycare when I pick you up because you are playing tag or racing with the other kids.

You have a love of sports (which you obviously didn't get from us!) and are a true boy's boy. You like to get dirty, collect rocks and acorns in your nature bucket, and be outside. I've begun to think that vehicle noises are programmed into boys when they are born. One day I see you racing your cars around your racetrack rug while making engine noises. Who taught you these things?? Your new love is Thomas the Train. It's your first taste of TV and commercialism. Since Grace was born, books have taken the back seat to all of the other fun things in your life but you've been engaging with them again recently. Favorites are The Little Engine That Could and The Monster at the End of This Book. You're beginning to "read" them too. While getting dinner ready the other night, I saw you reading on your chair flipping through the monster one saying, "Don't turn the page!" as Grover does. As a teacher and a lover of literacy, this is AWESOME! You also like typing on my laptop. I wasn't a fan of it at first, but it's a way to learn your letters. "Push O?" is a frequent phrase you like to utter and between the keyboard and the letters on the fridge, you accurately identify close to half the alphabet. You know that L-I-A-M is Liam and your name.

You've only been alive for twenty four months - such a short amount of time. I am in awe of what you already know and of how you learn it. I know that for the next few years you will continue to absorb everything around you so easily. Because of this, I try daily to be a better person so you have a good example. I hesitate and respond thoughtfully to others instead of giving a snarky remark. I take the time to smile at strangers. I involve you with my decisions like what to get Daddy for his birthday so you can see how everyday nuances play out. Daddy did love his happy birthday brother card, the elmo balloon, and his race cars. :)

Bear hug! :)

Petting bunnies with no pants on. 

Enjoying the great outdoors with Daddy in Shenandoah.

On our way to meet Thomas!
I love you with all of my heart, Goose. You are incredibly special and I thank God every day for the gift of you. Happy 2nd birthday! Love, Mama

Friday, November 23, 2012

Happy One Month!


Your long term nickname is still developing. Until then, I'll address you by your given name. :)

People initially said you looked like Liam, now some say you look like me. Frankly, I don't see it yet. I think you look like Grace.


Day 2

One week old

Two Weeks Old

 Three Weeks Old

Week 4 (October 3rd) - Nana aka Francesca Adeline's 94th Birthday

Happy 22 1/2 Months!

Bean (more often called Goose),

Wow, have you given us a run for our money this month!

*proudly sit forward facing in "Black Van" - a milestone all of us looked forward to!

*give "Baby Sister" one armed hugs and countless kisses on top of her head.

*help out with Chickpea as best as you can: getting diapers and giving her back her "binky".

*can hold an actual (albeit short) phone conversation that makes sense. [Example: You bring us the phone and say, "Call Mom-Mom." You say "Heh-row," followed by lots of "uh-huh"s. But you can answer what you are doing ad who you are with. It's so neat!!]

Making Room for Baby & Making Changes


There were a number of things we wanted to do to get you ready for your sister's arrival. But as I told a dear friend at work, I think God laughs at me whenever I make plans. :) Therefore, we didn't get to prep you as much as we would have liked. I think many families never give this a second thought but as Daddy and I don't have siblings we wanted to make sure this experience was a happy and positive one for you!

We did have an amazing "big brother" book that we shared with you for many months beforehand. You did nice touch to baby sister Chickpea and tried to feed her goldfish and Os in my belly and shared  your stickers.

<----      :)

Fortunately, we spent Labor Day making crafts for your sister and you even picked out a gift. I was afraid you would forget the experience before you could give it to her but luckily, she was only 2 days away!

You loved your "tube" of animals and the camera "cam-ma" that Grace got you! More importantly, from Day One, you have loved your sister. I could not have asked for anything more. What you didn't love though, was thinking that you were missing out on something.. or perhaps the disruption of it all. By the time Grace was two weeks old, you decided that sleep was something to buck us on again. One night, you woke up and tried to exit your crib - head first. The next day we prompted changed your crib into a toddler bed. You said it was "broken" and so the long two months of not wanting to go to sleep at night (and not wanting to go back to sleep in the middle of the night) began. Thank goodness Grace only woke up once or twice a night! It was very trying (and tiring) to be up with you again, sleeping on your floor to get you to sleep. There were many nights that MomMom had to put you to bed. Thank goodness for her too!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Happy BIRTHday, Sweet Grace!

*Warning: Birth story ahead!*


Daddy and I were pretty sure you would be a September baby, but we had no idea you'd arrive so early! I knew something was up the morning of Tuesday the 4th. When I got to work, I talked with your "Aunts" Jaime, Kristin, Christina, Kimber, and Megan and told them I felt it could be any moment! By the evening, I felt very uncomfortable and by 10 o'clock, I told your dad to "be prepared." He asked me to tell you that he would like a full night's sleep first. :)

As you will soon learn, your mama loves her sleep. So when I could not fall into it easily, I knew you were on the way. By 11, my water broke and didn't stop. I woke Daddy up and told him that maybe we should pack our bags. :) We stumbled around in the dark, trying not to wake Liam as we got our things together and called over your grandparents for back up. We arrived at the hospital around 12:30AM and requested our favorite triage room, #5, which we frequented during the early part of your pregnancy. Daddy was bummed when it was already taken. It's the only one with a comfy reclining chair. :) This was the last thing on my mind as I was so incredibly worried that your labor would be super quick as your brother's was six hours said and done but while you were itching to get out early, you took your sweet time.

Last belly shot - 36 weeks 2 days - 1AM
Contractions weren't as bad as I had remembered but I suppose that's easy to say when they are 20 minutes apart. I opted for an epidural anyway. A special "Thank You" to Dr. Katz for his amazing work!! Your heart rate did dip a few times however not enough for the doctors to be concerned. The midwife and nurse were impressed with the contraction length. I'd push a few times, then we'd wait and chat before the next one came along. I learned about her free spirited volunteer daughter whose life dream is to work for TOMS and her son's August wedding in NYC. Definitely not your typical TV show labor. :) While the contractions weren't super painful/pressurized towards the end, they were LONG. (See the "mountain range" picture below.)

Like your brother (and unlike your parents), you had a full head of hair. So much so that I could see it before you were even out! Daddy was momentarily concerned that it was dark brown though.. I wonder where that came from!

At 9:22AM, you came into the world and joined our family. I remember being in awe of your brother, just staring at him. With you, I just cried. I was so happy that despite being close to a month early and all of our adventurous beginnings, you were okay. That was, by far, the greatest gift of all.

You are beautiful and we can't wait to watch you grow! <3

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Documenting Our Family of Three

Before Liam was born, we had our wedding photographer (of Heather Fowler photography) take photos of us (and belly) down in Cape Henlopen. We had previous had some post-wedding portraits taken on Wildwood's boardwalk and Cape May so we thought we'd get in Kevin's beaches too. :)

For our newest addition, we wanted to be sure we had something similar. I hear lots of stories about how the children after the first one get gipped in terms of pictures, albums, and other special stuff. As an only child, I cannot imagine doing this! Chickpea already has the beginnings of a baby book and free 4D ultrasounds - courtesy of that subchorionic hemorrhage. 

I love the photojournalistic style (in layman's terms: photos without manmade backdrops or tons of posing) but I also love getting different photographers' views. Enter Emily. :) I met Emily as a freshman in college and was already admiring her photography skills of pictures she took of our campus. She now has her own business, Emily Troutman Photography, so if you are in the Delaware area you should check her out!

Here are some of my favorites from her blog post of our session. Check out her page to see more! 
Our Family <3 <3 <3 <3

Liam's obession with phones led to this idea. :)
You don't know what you're in for, Liam!

This is one of our ultrasound photographs with a verse (John 1:16).
"From the fullness of His grace, we have received one blessing after another." 

I can't believe we are one step closer to welcoming our baby girl! <3

Friday, August 31, 2012

Adventures in Life & Triage


You will be arriving in T-4 weeks and a few days. However, Daddy and I think you have other plans and guess you might be a mid-September baby. Daddy thinks the first day of fall, his favorite season, while I'm hoping you'll hang on long enough for my students to meet their long term substitute at school!

If it's one thing your pregnancy isn't, it's uneventful. With Bean, week by week passed with textbook milestones and anticipation. This is similar to you but with added "excitement" along the way. The subchorrionic bleed is now a small sliver of a crescent moon overshadowed by a beautifully growing girl whom we've witnessed kicking and yawning on ultrasounds in the womb. It's hard to forget how scary it was when, at weeks 6-14, it was a massive black pool triple your size.

But I've learned:
God takes Time and Time does Heal. Quite literally, in fact.

As things become "normal", it becomes increasingly easy to forget to be thankful. So perhaps this is why Wednesday's 12 hour triage trip occurred - another wake up call. I woke up at 2 AM with dizziness and an inability to focus properly. When it didn't go away by 6, I'm glad I had the right mind to say that something was off. I went to the hospital armed with an amazing husband who sat in an incredibly uncomfortable chair beside me for 12 hours while we talked with nurses, PAs, and doctors about the "episode" and my symptoms. Many hours of magazine reading later, I had my first ever MRI which I believe is inaccurately portrayed on House as it sounded like a cross between a rave, construction site, and nuclear warfare. More waiting and the scan came back - nothing. I was diagnosed with vertigo. That I can handle. Dehydration could have also been a trigger so perhaps drinking more water wouldn't be a bad idea either. :)

Having a baby is not easy work. It takes strength to hold it together - for yourself and for your baby. For some it's in trying to conceive, others in staying pregnant, for others in labor or what to do when you're finally home with this human being you prayed so hard to receive. And a quick note about all those who raise a child without having gone through pregnancy themselves: It's not easier for them. Their strength came in the waiting for a child and having to trust that when the time was right, a child would enter their lives.

During all of my Wednesday waiting it really began to sink in that so many things could go wrong and that we are extremely BLESSED. While they don't seem like small things in the moment, everything I've gone through so far was just a little bump in the road. In fact, through every trial that we've had in our pregnancy with you, you were doing just fine. I found these logics on an elementary school friend's post today and thought it was fitting.

While #s 1 & 3 are logics I need to take the time to remember, #s 2 & 5 are especially difficult for me. I care deeply about what others think which somehow manifests itself in dwelling on how much better other people have it. But it's true. I don't know what their journey is about just as the strangers who comment on my pregnant size or shape have no idea of the stressful beginning of my pregnancy with you.  

If it's one thing I'd like to teach you in life, it's to enjoy YOUR journey. Surround yourself with people who will stick by in the bad as well as good times and those who don't care how much or little you have, just how you make the best of it.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Happy 21 Months!

While you are still our baby (and always will be), this month you really have become a "Big Kid." Perhaps you really do know that a new baby is coming into our lives.  We celebrated the day with a maternity and family photo shoot with Emily Troutman of Emily Troutman Photo. We loved the photos we did for you and are excited to have professionally documented "Us" as a family of three before becoming a family of four. 

You are also our guinea pig child - every day with you is a first for me. Because of this, I really don't know when you are supposed to hit important, yet smaller, milestones so I like to celebrate all of them. <3

Here's what you can do this month. You:
*have started calling your father "Big Daddy." Lord only knows where that one came from, but it's hysterical and Daddy loves it. I find it important to note that I was only called Big Mama once. It didn't stick and perhaps that's for the better! 
*have decided that I'm "Mommy" now instead of Mama. It was a hard change to get used to but hearing your voice say anything that means me and only me is precious. 
*call yourself "Big Kid" and you are getting better at pronouncing your own name. Ls are tricky!
*can recognize your name when written with a few others and know that those combinations of letters make your name every time. As a literacy student, I think that's pretty cool. :)
*could eat an entire pint of blueberries ("boo-berries") in one sitting if we would let you!
*have decided goldfish do indeed make a good snack.
*had your first real sickness - hand, foot, and mouth disease. It was not pleasant but you were a trooper! We are blessed that you have been such a healthy child!
*know how to manipulate bedtime by asking what EVERY SINGLE animal is on the last pages of your ocean book when you know it's time for bed.
*must brush your teeth first before Mommy can help you finish the job.
*can climb! Not out of your crib thankfully, but it was nerve wracking and cool to turn around and see you seated at the kitchen table with your cup and snack by yourself!
*are now in a big kid seat at the table which you enjoy buckling yourself very much!
*have a new best friend - Penguin ("poe-win") and love to have him read, share your snack, jump, swim, and give kisses.

And my favorite:
*created a special good bye routine with Daddy. Mommy showed you once how to keep kisses with you by putting them on your heart so our love is always with you. So now, when he blows you kisses, you catch them (with a grunting sound effect) and pat your chest with it while you say "Heart." It makes me teary eyed every time. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Happy 20 1/2 Months!

I can't believe you have been with us for close to two years already! Right now (while you are sleeping), it seems like yesterday, while at other times it feels more like a decade. :) I saw on another mom's blog where she posted what her child was able to do milestone-wise for the month and thought it was a fun way to document things as your baby book doesn't have room for it.

At 20 and a half months (because I didn't post this in July), you:
*Let us know when Chloe's bowl is empty and feed her yourself (with our help opening the bag). Then you yell, "Coe-ee! Food!"
*Can now say the letter X in words like mix and fox.
*Play talk on the phone, complete with laughter and pausing as if you're actually talking to someone.
*Love story time at the library. But I think ti's mostly because you get: a snack, to use a glue stick, and two stamps. :)
*Enjoy hopping on your bouncy cow and dismount by putting the front of it down and stepping over his head.
*Feed your giraffe and monkey by dipping their heads in a bowl of cheerios and making eating noises with your own mouth.

At 20 months, you:
*Do "nice touch" to your sister and now call her Chickpea (chee-pea).
*Talk non-stop! You wake up with a running commentary to all of your animals. On the monitor Daddy and I hear, "Hi, Crab (cab)! Hi, Turtle! Hi, Sea Horse (sss-horse)! Hi, Monkey (mun-kee)! Hi, Hippo (hee-poe)!" complete with waving. It's absolutely adorable!
*Can pronounce three syllable words like detector with no problem, but clock, fox, and drink definitely sound like swear words.
*Were shown jeeps by your Grandpa and, somehow, you can identify Wranglers and Cherokees where ever we go.
*Love our new Odyssey and call it "Black Van" (back van) with much enthusiasm.
*Picked your first eggplant from our garden.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Countdown is On!

I felt I had the time to treasure (and worry about) every single moment of pregnancy with Bean. It's a little different this time around, perhaps because I'm constantly running after him!

As of this Sunday, the third trimester has arrived and the countdown is on. 12 weeks left until we meet our daughter! <3 <3 <3 <3

Friday, July 6, 2012

Our Sweet Girl

The ultrasound tech said this pose showed "a look of drama." I laughed. From what I'm told, I was not a child filled with (outward) attitude, a temper, or anything else that made my parents' lives difficult. Kevin and I however wonder about this one! Beginning with the week we learned of her blessing, she has filled our lives with additional happiness we didn't know possible - but also some anxiety!

We are thrilled to hear that the subchorionic hemorrhage that was initially present throughout the first trimester seems to have resolved itself. This is great as the triage nurses and I were on a first name basis for a while. I see the whole experience as a gift though. I believe I can control some aspects of my health and body but not all of them. The only way I can function daily is to believe that God is the one with control. For a person who likes to be in charge of everything, it was a tough conversion to hand over the "power" I thought I had. I will say I am a happier person and more at ease now that I have.

There have been countless times in life I've prayed for something and the majority have been for asking. In more recent years, I've tried hard to pray for the blessings I've had first and to be thankful for what I have. It's becoming easier even though it sometimes seems strange to me, while I was mid-thought worrying about the latest bleed in the hospital bathroom, that I'm thanking God for Bean and the simple (yet miraculous) fact that I'm able to be pregnant at all. "I trust in Your plan for us" is a phrase I silently say more times than I can count.

So needless to say, we are beyond grateful that..
~I've made it to the third trimester!
~we are able to give Bean what we never had - a sibling.
~she is healthy and strong. <3 <3 <3 <3

Monday, June 11, 2012

YOHO: You Only Have One :)

While walking Bean up to the pool today, I got really sad. It's taken me about 18 months to figure out how to raise one child well (or at least do a decent job at it). We are more excited than words and tears can say, but I frequently get fearful about having two so close together. I'm sure everything will work out fine yet it's hard for me to see how I'll be able to give both children the same. I've been seeing the "YOLO" catchphrase everywhere. With a little tweak, this summer is a project in YOHO - You Only Have One - enjoying every moment with just Bean so I'll have no regrets or wishes once little Chickpea arrives in October!

YOHO Adventure #1: We took the wagon (Bean's favorite) up to the pool for a picnic lunch. He loved all the cars, trucks, and runners that passed pointing out every one. His newest thing is saying "Kiss" before or after giving one. I soaked up each sweet peck on the arm, knee, or cheek and giggle that followed while being covered in peanut butter smudges. Who am I kidding? Yes, two will be challenging at first - but to have these precious interactions with TWO babies is so worth it! :)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Acting on Intentions

I'm going to toot my own horn: I think I'm pretty creative. :)

That being said, you probably wouldn't know it as these ideas typically stay in my head. It's the acting on it part that doesn't happen. After reading The Happiness Project though, I'm attempting to change this. I had an opportunity this week to carry out my first intention.

We (my husband and I) are finding out tomorrow if our newest baby is a boy or a girl. While his parents live down the road - literally, my parents are over 2 hours away. I know they would love to be here to experience the reveal firsthand, so I wanted to come up with a cute way to involve them. After scouring Pinterest for ideas, I came up with my own twist. (Disclaimer: It was not one that I found on Pinterest under gender reveal or parent/family gender reveal.)

I decided to blow up two neutral colored balloons and fill them with construction paper confetti and a note . One balloon held "It's a Boy!", the other "It's a Girl!" They were put in a box and sealed with directions of what to do when they open the package. I ended up calling tonight to say that a package was arriving tomorrow but I didn't spill any details. :) The plan is to call and let them know which balloon to pop. While it's not an amazing idea, I think they will appreciate the thought.
Balloon innards

Goodies inside the balloon

Snuggly inside the box!

Ready to ship! The pink paper says, "It's time to see what your new grandchild will be!"

Intention turned action: Check! I cannot wait to see how my parents like it!

Living the 4th and Beyond - Happiness

It's been a while since I was last on retreat. Each year when that February weekend when the Oratory takes a group to Cape May rolls around, I sit and reminisce about how wonderful that first year was.. A college freshman trying to find my way, I stumbled upon the St. Thomas More Oratory. While I didn't take part in everything they had to offer the change that place has made upon my life and my heart will never cease to amaze me. Liam's middle name is named in honor of it - this is just one example. Oh, and I found my husband there. <3

So life has changed a lot since February of 2002. 10 years later, I have accomplished a number of things that I wanted to do in my life: graduate from college, get married, own a house, obtain a Master's degree, have children. Superficially glancing at this list, many people would say this is a lifetime's worth of goals. Honestly, it is. That's not how my mind works though.. While a happy person, I tend to focus on what I have not accomplished, what I have not succeeded at, and what I cannot do as well as I would like to. Case in point in writing this post: I used to take great pride in my writing ability, yet I look at the last word of the previous sentence and struggle with the fact that I cannot come up with a different word so it will not end in a preposition.

Type A - yes.
Perfectionist - you bet.

Maybe that explains it, but I'm forced to dig deeper. I'm fairly certain I've always had these personality traits but somewhere between high school graduation and here, I've gotten off the path of "happiness". Being the nostalgic person I am, I read my senior yearbook filled with genuine comments from true friends about my attitude towards life and the inspiration it brings. I got inspired just reading the notes! But that person is no longer ME. Am I upset with who I am? Well, not exactly. I know that I'm blessed and I am grateful for all that I have. My biggest "problem" with me is that I feel I don't appreciate these things ALL the time. I let silly, little things get in the way of the big picture - so that is what I am setting out to change.

A friend talked about The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin on her blog and I was intrigued. I got a copy from the library and began reading. While only two chapters in, I could not help to think of myself while reading it. It's like the author is me - with a few glaring differences. You know, not being a former clerk for a Supreme Court justice or having (what I presume to be) millions from writing a book being how to be happy. In the end, I believe Gretchen "found" that she was closer to happiness than when she started. That's the thing about happiness: it's a daily commitment - same with being a Catholic - you can't just say you believe in Jesus and call it a day. You need to continually commit yourself to being a good person, prayer, trying to improve, giving thanks, and so on.

Let me get back to the 4th day. Without ruining the experience for those who may one day go on such a life changing retreat, the retreat lasts for three days so the fourth day is, more or less, your next step. What will you do with all you've heard, read, experienced? To me, the fourth day was always a fresh start - almost like a New Year's resolution. So, I'm going to try my hand at my own happiness project.

[ This picture makes me giggle as a dear friend sent it to our team at work on for May 4th with the caption, "May the Fourth Be With You!" Immediately I thought of retreat. :)  ]

As I finished the book, the quote about the experiencing the journey, not focusing on the destination comes to mind. That already has changed my whole way of thinking. As Gretchen would say, "Where ever you are, that's where you start." So.. this is where I shall begin!