Today marks three weeks until our scheduled C-section to meet our new baby.


That is not a lot of time.

At this point with our first, Sophie, I was ready. Hospital bag packed, stroller assembled, crib built, nursery set up, car seat installed. And I was sure I would go at ANY. MINUTE. I didn't go super early (just a couple of days), but man, were we "ready".

With Lillian, I felt like I should do the same thing, so we were just as ready. It was a scheduled C-section, so it was a bit easier to prepare the need-all-the-stuff-together date, but still. We were "ready".

And this one??

The crib is still in 5 pieces.

The nursery is still in shambles.

Clothes are still in boxes.

And I am napping more than ever.


So last night we had to do some shopping because our first (remember, Sophie, from above?) is starting school in just over a week. A week this coming Tuesday. ???????????? Where the heck did the time go???????????? And while we were shopping, we may as well pick up some things for this baby that is also coming super soon.

Now I have new baby things in my house again. :) :) NEW BABY THINGS. And for the first time this pregnancy, I'm really starting to get excited. I know everything can still go downhill or be mega hard (and probably will be), but we are actually moving in the RIGHT direction...instead of just napping and hoping some elf or fairy will come at night and take care of everything for us.

Here are some of the adorable things we bought!

We needed the gender-neutral going-home outfit (and the hanging out in the hospital outfits). We zipped off to Bonnie Togs, a gorgeous (and affordable!) children's store full of baby and children clothes.

Our baby will be lounging around in the following adorable Carters outfits:

These onesies are perfect - no snaps along their sensitive bellies, only at the diaper area, sweet soft shoulders, and cute animal prints, including HIPPOS!! I love hippos. Seriously. If you live in Canada, you've probably seen the House-Hippo commercials, and let me tell you, if it wasn't an advertising lie we'd own one. YESTERDAY.

This sleeper set is so sweet...and as a family that has never found out what they are having, all our babies have worn ducks at some point or another. This one will fit right in. ;)

And this adorable teddy bear set is the let's-break-outta-this-place-and-get-back-to-our-normal-chaos outfit. I felt guilty that it says I *heart* Mommy, but Ben assured me that he didn't feel left out and so we bought it and now it's what's happening. I still feel guilty.
I also felt like we needed a new diaper bag - we've used the same one for both babies and it's old, ripped, tired, and falling apart. So we bought this one - instead of the backpack version we used to have, this is a cross body one. It's manish enough that Ben won't mind carrying it and if we have a boy they won't mind having their stuff carted around in it. We found it at Wal-Mart and it's Fisher-Price. Best feature? That pocket on the left with the orange hole in it hangs onto your wipes so that you have instant access to them. GENIUS.
Our last purchase? This.

Because you know. Nipple bootcamp is also just three weeks away.



Pinterest - WIN!

Pinterest makes me want to be a better mom, crafter, cook, friend, and writer.

Pinterest makes me REALLY tired.

Such high expectations, Pinterest. SO HIGH.

But I found something that I thought I could handle and try without too much fuss.

Via Super Mom Moments
Did you know you can pop corn in a microwave with just kernels and a paper bag??? Neither did I. Pinterest said we could, though. I had kernels. I had a willing husband to buy me paper bags while I stayed in my pyjamas all day. And voila! A Pinterest test was born!

According to the awesome blog of super moms, Super Mom Moments, you just take a regular paper lunch bag, 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels and make some magic in your microwave for 2 minutes. Just put the kernels in the bag, fold over the top twice, place the bag in your microwave folded side down, and nuke it for 2 minutes (I set it for 3 just in case).

I of course made sure Ben (the willing husband) stood next to me in case it caught on fire.

And I of course didn't believe it could work until it was over.


A bowl of popcorn, comparable to a bag of microwave popcorn in volume, made without butter, salt, chemicals, and other yellow goo that you find in microwave popcorn. Crazy HEALTHY popcorn in minutes (it did take more than 2 minutes...no more than 3, though...I listened to the popping just like the regular microwave popcorn packaging tells you too and stopped it when the popping slowed to 1 pop per more than a second)!

Now to turn this popcorn into caramel corn. But HEALTHIER caramel corn, so it's okay. ;)


Monday notes

Some notes on this Monday:

  • I have reached the point in the pregnancy where nothing is comfortable and everything hurts and is hard. I find it ridiculous that this point comes WEEKS before a baby should be born, instead of in the last week. Seriously - who thought up this timing???
  • The girls and I are still in our pyjamas. Last night may have been a record of no sleep with no visits from babies. I was kept up by needing to pee, being too hot, and having horrible dreams. Pregnancy dreams are SO vivid, so the bad ones are even WORSE than if you had them when you weren't pregnant.
  • I think lunch is my least favourite meal of the day. It takes a bit to figure out what to make, then to make it (especially with my giant belly), then to get the girls to the table, then to settle them down to pray, then to eat...which takes me no time, but could take them EONS. How long does it take to eat a sandwich?? Too long if you're 2 and 4.
  • Sophie starts school soon. We're having a baby soon. And yet nothing is in place for these things to happen. I'm trying to not to panic, but then I get tired and nap and then I wake up and realize that I accomplished nothing but avoiding panic. On the list of things still to do: get a 2-compartment lunch bag for Sophie (schools here have two 'nutrition breaks' instead of the usual one lunch, so you have to essentially pack two different lunches); a first-day outfit; a come-home-from-the-hospital outfit for baby; get Soph's backpack ready; get the hospital bag ready; buy tiny diapers; buy labels for all of Sophie's stuff; put the nursery together; bring up and dust the bassinette; and nap. Seems doable, right? OI.
  • I'm so blessed that my girls are okay with a lazy mama this summer. Usually we'd be at the park every day; some days the park AND the library; and even some days the park, the library, AND have a picnic! This summer has been lots of movies, and lounging, and taking advantage of our tiny postage-stamp-sized backyard where the coolest thing to do is dig in the dirt. They haven't launched a full-scale mutiny, yet I still feel like I'm failing them somehow.
  • We don't know if we're having a boy or a girl...all we know is it's a human baby. Some people congratulate me on this decision; others are annoyed that we didn't find out. It's funny that it's so polarizing. Did you find out what you were having? Why or why not? With our first, Sophie, we totally decided not to so we could enjoy the surprise. With Lillian, our second, we tried, but she wouldn't give it up! With Charlie, our baby in heaven, we never found out or decided either way because there was no time - they were gone by 11 weeks. And with this one? It's our last. We're all done after this. So why not keep with tradition, not find out, and enjoy this one last surprise until the very end.



My mother-in-law (really, my second mother) often tells the story of my gorgeous sister-in-law Kim(really, my fourth sister) trying to decide what she wanted to be when she grew up. She couldn't just pick one thing, and that's where the term 'fireman-ballerina' came from - wanting to be everything, deciding on nothing.

I've quit Avon and today is my first Avon-free day. I've spent some time thinking about what I wanted to be now that I'm not selling lipstick and bubble bath or answering zillions of website questions.

Obviously, I want to write more. My brain is happiest writing - words, descriptions, characters, and details make up the narrative in my head all day long.

I want to blog more. This place is my place and I want to share more of me with you. I want this to be a consistent part of my life.

I want to make more homemade gifts. Preserves, cookies, treats, homemade meals. Crocheted baby blankets, booties, hats, and dishcloths for the newly married. I want the cards that go with the gifts to be equally as beautiful, with delicate ribbons, stamps and punched-out paper. I want to be crafty. I want to crochet. I want to knit. I want to be Martha Stewart without the jail time and creepy calm voice.

I want to be the best mother ever. I want to spend quality time with my girls, helping them play and make memories. I want to have energy and patience for their antics and growth. I want to yell less and turn the tv off more.

I want to be a good friend and wife. Be there for those who need me, go the distance, talk for hours, be intimate in shared details and the mopping of tears.

I want to be a better housekeeper, where my house may not be clean, but tidy, not perfect, but not one step from a hoarders episode.

I want to read book after book after book, filling my head with other's art and stories, examining craft and stealing away to other places far from my reality.

I want to run. I can't right now because of my giant belly, fear, and cramping, but I want to in the future. I want to commit and be a runner for the rest of my life. I want my girls to look at me and know that being fit is a lifestyle, not a self-esteem barragement where one is simply trying to fix a finite problem. I want them to be inspired to be healthy and take care of themselves.

In short, I want to be a fireman-ballerina, jack of all trades, master of none, complete with time off for rest, naps, and having this baby.

Not too much to aspire to, right?


Bad day

I'm having a bad day.

You know how I know?

I'm yelling a lot.

I'm restless and irritable.

I'm having a hard time with the girls fighting.

I'm having a hard time with the girls giggling and getting along.

I'm still in my pyjamas and it's after 11 a.m.

I'm not enjoying being in my pyjamas - the thought of getting dressed is overwhelming me. Because if I get dressed, then I have to get the girls dressed and deal with Sophie's negotiations and Lillian demanding to do it herself, which normally I can handle...but not today.

Because today is a bad day.

One of my favourite books is a children's book. It's called Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. It's about this little boy named Alexander who has a day when nothing goes his way, where nothing is good enough, and where he gets in trouble. He decides he's going to move to Australia because he bets that they don't have bad days there.

Via Goodreads

At the end, he goes to bed and his mom tells him that everyone has bad days, even Australians. I'm hoping that the next day he has a better day...there is no sequel, but that's what I wish for him. A string of bad days is just not fair. One is bad enough.

When I was battling postpartum depression, the bad days had no end. Every day was a bad day. And then slowly, the string got broken up with beads of good moments, which turned into good minutes, hours, even chunks of day. And then, I had my first good day. And I have no idea when that happened, but that first good day was a gateway to more good and soon the good outnumbered the bad.
And that's where I am. I know today is just a bad day and that tomorrow, or even this afternoon or evening will be better.

But for right now Australia and my bed are looking pretty darn good.


Goofy kind of grief

I have given up my leadership position with Sunday School and received a letter from the Canadian head of the church wishing me luck and saying he'll pray for me.

I have resigned from my paid position with Avon (I'm an Avon lady! Or was...) and now my manager is actively looking for a replacement.

I have officially told my Avon clients that this is my last campaign and that in a week and a bit I'll be done and now I'm receiving the 'I'll miss you!' emails.

I'm feeling raw today...sad and empty and helpless.

Rationally, I know that all of this makes sense. That if I don't pare down now I won't have a shot of avoiding postpartum depression again. That if I don't focus on what's really important, I will find myself quitting in an emergency situation, not when I 'choose'.

But, it doesn't feel like I'm choosing this. It feels forced...just not emergent.

I'm grieving a goofy kind of loss today. I'm grieving the loss of who I had become since my youngest, Lillian, was born. I'm grieving the job I created for myself, the life I had been living, the responsibilities I had accepted when I was well again.

I'm grieving the shift from Julia to Underwater Mama. Again.

And this grief is familiar and just as painful as before, even though I know that it is temporary and that I'll rebuild in a year or so.

I know all this.

And yet taking time to grieve, to cry, to mourn this loss of me again feels necessary. And present. And it won't go away until I've dealt with it.


Bye-bye, Julia. See you on the other side.



The last time I talked to a baby in my belly, it was to tell Charlie to go if they were leaving...to let go and be in peace and that I would be okay and Daddy would be okay and everyone would be okay and that that all they had to worry about was their journey and that they were loved and didn't need to hold on.

I was bleeding. And scared. And I knew in my bones. I KNEW I was miscarrying. I KNEW I was losing a baby, full of life and hope and the future and that baby smell...I knew. And I wanted the baby to go without having to deal with a mess of a mama.

That was the last time I talked to a baby in my belly.

And here I am today. Pregnant. With a belly that looks bigger than my 13 weeks (I'm told they get bigger faster the more times you do this...it's my fourth time, so...).

And I'm on the couch, watching a movie and rubbing my belly and wanting to whisper to it. To talk about how excited we are to meet this person. How exciting the next appointment will be because we'll get to hear their heartbeat. How I have no idea how we're going to handle 3 crazy little ones at once, but somehow we'll figure it out.

And yet...all I can think about is that last conversation. That last time when I was trying to be brave and kind and loving and the best mama I could be to someone I had never met or kissed or cooed at.

The last time when I said goodbye and told my baby to go into the great beyond, to not worry about me.

I miss my gone baby today. I hate that that feeling is mixed up in the feelings I have for this baby, my fourth baby...

And yet I don't know any other way.

I miss Charlie.

Today. Yesterday. Always.



Drama queen

So, I'm not really fading away.

I'm just pregnant. And have the cold from hell. And I chase after 2-3 little people every. single. day.

I wish I could remember ALL of those things when I'm in the middle of feeling like everything is falling apart and I'm having a bad day.

I know I'm allowed to have bad days, but in the midst of the exhaustion, sickness, run-down-ness, I forget that I'm allowed to sleep longer, nap more, do less. I forget and think that the sky is falling simply because the balls I have in the air are not as high or spun as nicely or are landing on the ground at record speed.

I am a bit of a drama queen on bad days.

Perhaps you could argue that because of past circumstances, because of my past experience, I am completely justified to feel like it's the end of the world when really it's just a blip. But my children don't care that I deserve the right to be dramatic. And my marriage certainly doesn't deserve my normal, everyday nonsense, let alone the over-the-top-unnecessarily-dramatic nonsense.

I remember sobbing in my therapist's office, months after beating postpartum depression, telling her that it was all coming back, that I was losing it. Again.

And she gently (although it didn't FEEL gentle) reminded me that it can't. That once you beat postpartum depression, that's it. It could be something else, but it's not 'coming back.' It doesn't work that way.

Then she asked me how I was sleeping. I had had the flu and the girls were both sick, so sleeping was not an option. She asked me how I was feeling. Ahem...flu! Then she asked me if I had any relief during the day. No, stay-at-home moms don't get sick days.

If bopping people on the head in therapy was allowed, this would be the moment. Instead, she just said, Julia, take a sick day. Figure out a way to get a day off.

So I did.

I spent that whole Saturday in bed, with my computer and the Bridesmaids movie, which literally made me cackle and laugh out loud, and a stack of books, fiction, non-fiction, parenting, goofy, and magazines and I napped and rested and emerged to eat and disappeared again and then spent the night on the couch with my husband, snuggling and enjoying life.

And you know what? I didn't get postpartum depression again. I felt SO. MUCH. BETTER.

It's amazing what a little recharge will do.

And it's amazing what creeping into the second trimester will do and breathing through your nose will do and being able to taste the food you've been craving will do.

So, dear reader(s). I'm not falling apart, the world isn't ending, and I'm okay. I swear.

Just a little overly dramatic when things get rough and pile on top of me.

Now I know where my three-year old gets it....so embarassing.

PS. PREGNANT!! :) Baby number 4 is on its way this September. Trying to stay in my skin and this moment and being excited. Trying so damn hard.



I feel like I'm fading.

Or at least just wasting away while waiting for something to happen.

It's not like there aren't things happening in my life. I'm the busy mom of two little people. I have friends and a semi-regular social life. Ish. I have a husband who I could talk to for hours.

It's not like I'm an island and I'm just frittering away my time, waiting for something to happen TO me. There are things HAPPENING. I just...

...it's like my skin isn't as bright as it used to be. It's dull. My hair even - streaked with ever-increasing lines of grey and hints of a hair colour that used to be mine. My clothes even feel scratchy, like my skin is trying to leave but the clothes are in the way.

What is that saying? Follow the rats? On a sinking ship? Or if they're leaving the slum all of a sudden? Get out?

I've wanted to escape my life before...before when I was sick and sad and broken after having my oldest, Sophie. I wanted to run away and never look back. I didn't have anything in particular to run to except for anywhere-but-here.

It isn't the same feeling. It's more like an "I'm here, now what?" feeling. As if there is supposed to be something MORE.

And maybe that's the issue. There isn't for now.

I'm a stay-at-home mom, so there is no MORE career-wise. I don't participate in my volunteer positions at church anymore, so there isn't any MORE there either.

Family-wise, I see people and participate and am engaged...so again, no MORE.

And getting out and doing things, I sometimes feel like it's too much, so I'm not comfortable adding MORE to that.

Is it that I'm missing a calling? Something I SHOULD be doing (although, if my therapist heard me use that word she'd remind me to stop shoulding on myself and start living my reality...smart lady)?

I don't know.

I do know that winter has been hard with being stuck inside, being overwhelmed with the idea of all the winter clothes and preparations needed to get out.

I do know that I have been at home by choice versus by blessing of a government maternity leave for a year...so I'm a year into being the stay-at-home-mom I swore I'd never be. Ever.

So I'm here. On my island full of people and teeming with life. I just need to find my spot again, find my equilibrium.

You know, before something else comes along and changes everything all over again.


Worth it

There are days that make this all worth it...the temper tantrums and butt-bombs and boogers and whining and wake ups at 3 in the morning to fix blankets and biting and hitting and fighting and tears and spilled water and milk and Cheerios and mouths full of crayons and rocks and markers and the neverending stream of very annoying children's programming...and today is one of those days.

Today, I had this conversation with Sophie:

Sophie: Is this a truck?
Me: Yes.
S: What kind of truck?
M: A moving truck.
S: But I want it to be a doctor's bus.
M: Okay, it's a doctor's bus.
S: Yay! Thanks, Mom!

Imagination in full bloom...but apparently it needs regulatory approval.

Later, Lillian and Sophie were sitting on the bottom stair as they often do, Lillian wearing Ben's dress shoes and Sophie wearing a pair of dress-up high heels, and they were making silly faces at each other, both squealing with laughter.

And at lunch, this exchange happened:

Sophie: Mom, can I have a napkin please? (HUGE DEAL - DID YOU NOTICE THE PLEASE???)
Me: Yes.
Lillian: Napkin.
Me: Please.
Lillian: Peease.
Sophie: Thanks, Mom!


Some days are worth it.


Peter Pan

During a long day, like yesterday or the day before...or the countless days before that, I am so jealous of my mother and mother-in-law. Both of them are single and free of babies and commitments besides work. Sure, they rescue their grown children bunches of times in crazy and new ways, our little family included, but for the most part they have a luxury of floating through this earth with very few people touching them or peeing on them or yelling at them or demanding of them...and I am SO. JEALOUS.

I fantasize and dream about the time when both of our girls are grown up and moved out and living their own lives at a distance. One where I can wake up and shower and take care of myself and fetch myself breakfast and maybe, if I am feeling like it, get my husband his breakfast, make his lunch for work...more whim-like than part of the grinding routine that clouds every day for me.

One where we can stay up later and only have the reprecussions of ourselves the next day, not the demands of toddlers and preschoolers as punishment. One where breakfast could be lazy and not immediately after you get up. Where coffee is hot and clean clothes stay clean until I'm sloppy and supper could be appetizers or toast or cereal and no one will complain or judge.

One where talking to the husband could be purely interesting and purely uninterrupted by shouts or singing or questions that never end.

Oh, the dream.

But yesterday I picked up Sophie, who is now 3-going-to-be-4, and she weighs around 30 pounds and is long and tall and has big feet and little girl hair and full sentences and deductive reasoning and I realized that those 3-almost-4 years have flown by. That just moments ago we were pregnant, then we were announcing, then contracting, then pushing, then c-sectioning, then holding our baby, then becoming parents HOLY-HELL-WHO-LET-US-BECOME-PARENTS.

And I looked at Lillian, who is toddler-going-on-2 and the same thing struck me.

Even though marathon days are all I know, the years are speeding by and soon Sophie will be in school and then Lillian and then they'll be moving out and then I'll cry.

So I asked Sophie to stop growing, to not get bigger, and I even offered to stop feeding her so we could hang on just a little bit longer.

Because the truth is I can't wait to be a free-moving adult in this world again...but I can certainly wait for my babies to get big and disappear into their own fog of being grown-up-ness. Oh, yes I can.


Keeping your head above the water

You know that moment where you have this gigantic feat to face, a huge stress to overcome, a big task that you're not sure you're up to ahead of you, and yet you're expected to keep living as if things were normal?

Like when you know something big is going to happen, but the dishes still need to be done and bums still need to be changed?

Like when you have 18,00000098230948239842 things to do, yet, you're expected to make dinner then sit down and eat it like nothing is eating you up alive inside?

You know that feeling?

That is me today. And since the big thing isn't happening for months yet, I feel like if I can't get a grip on TODAY then what will next month be like? Or the one after that? Or the one after that?

I know I'm supposed to focus on the moment (I even had a ring made to remind me of this since I'm so challenged in this area) and not on all the moments and minutes and hours and days and weeks and months all at once, but it's so hard.

Listening to the girls playing and fighting and playing and figthing, I'm trying to stay in this moment, but I'm so scattered I don't even know where to begin with this moment.

Dishes? Non-fiction submission? Pinterest hunting? Crocheting? Sitting and watching children's shows that drive me crazy?

What are you up to this moment? Maybe it will give me some ideas how to spend mine, until the next one comes. And then the next. And the next week. And the next month. And...

...time to lie down.


Days like this

There are some days where I want to disappear. Where I want to curl up in bed and never emerge. Today is that day.

The girls have been fighting all morning. Every few minutes is punctuated by L shrieking over something S isn't letting her do...and S whining in that infuriating voice that L has taken something that is "hers".

There isn't enough sleep in me today. There isn't enough energy or peace or patience. There isn't enough of anything.

Today is a bad day. And I know it's a bad day. I can see it as I watch myself handle each situation horribly, as I tell S to stop whining and I tell L to stop being a butt.

I know what I'm supposed to do. I'm supposed to take it easy. I'm supposed to make everything simple. I'm supposed to keep breathing and moving and taking everything moment by moment. I know all of that...but today, I just want to run away. I just want to sleep. I want silence and no demands.

I want, I want, I want.

Time for another coffee, to get dressed, and to start hanging out with the girls...because that is usually the cure. They stop fighting when I am present. And right now I'm hiding out.

Time to be a grown-up.

And time to stop wishing that stay-at-home parents got sick days.

Because today, if I worked a normal job, I would totally call in sick.



More -er than you know

Yesterday I went to go running with my dear friend J at 5:30 a.m. We usually meet up Monday and Thursday mornings, run around her or my neighbourhood, peer at dark houses and talk about all manner of things (life, dessert, ridiculousness, broken brains, etc.). And then we usually talk about how tired we are, being the mothers of young children. It's a constant state of being, but some mornings are tougher than others...some moments are exhausted beyond measure, beyond knowing how you're going to get up and keep going. Somehow we do...somehow we're still moving. And running, with puffs of cold breath, at too-early-o'clock in the morning.

Yesterday, though, when I arrived at J's house, she was still in her kitchen, no socks on, brushing her teeth. Usually she's ready to go and I only need to wait for her shoes to be tied. But yesterday I came into the kitchen and she said, "I was hoping you'd cancel."

I kinda hoped she would cancel too. And I was seriously toying with the idea of cancelling on her. Both of us had been up too late and both of us had long days ahead of us, days that could have used those extra hours of sleep.

I couldn't cancel, though. I needed to see her, to talk to her, to ruminate over the latest developments in my mothering, to get her advice and support and reassurance that the next hurdles in front of me were not only achievable, but that I would survive and keep moving well after I had jumped them.

I needed to hear that I was okay, that the future would be okay, even if it turned out horribly wrong, that things would still be okay. I left as I always do - bolstered, picked-up, and ready to keep moving, to keep fighting, even though the exhaustion was in my bones. We didn't run, we had tea instead, but we talked and talked and worked through the moments that were causing me the most difficulty. It wasn't as fit-full, but it was mentally health-full. Thank God for J.

Last night my gorgeously pregnant sister came over, overwhelmed by all the things that having a baby meant - from needing new maternity clothes to actually being a mother. She was slightly horrified that when she came in my youngest was having a temper tantrum and I had pen on my neck from an earlier colouring session. It didn't help her panic of "How in the world am I ever going to do this?!?!?"

We sat and talked and ate candy and I told her all the things J had told me that morning - that she's got this. That things are only overwhelming because she's trying to tackle everything all at once. That she's going to be more okay than she'll ever realize because in the moment she'll be awesome. And after the moment, she'll look back and be impressed because no one ever knows that they have it in them. Ever.

And I reassured her that babies do not come out temper-tantruming and pen-wielding. They come out small, and basic in need, and they DO NOT MOVE. That you ramp up. That once you get to where I am, two babies, a miscarriage, and almost 4 years in, this is manageable, not always ideal or sexy, but survivable.

I found this today and it fits perfectly for yesterday's theme:

It's hard to remember this all the time...especially with pen on your neck or a panic attack coming on or when you get knocked down pretty impressively. And sometimes you just need someone to hold your hand and remind you: You've got this. You're awesome. It's going to be okay. You've GOT this.

Because you do.



2012 was a tough year.

It was a year where I finished my journey through postpartum depression.

It was a year where we found out we were having our third baby.

It was a year where we lost our third baby at 11 weeks.

It was a year of grief, of the deepest crying I've ever done, of the hardest work in our marriage we've ever had to do, and a year of leaning harder than we've ever had to lean on people.

It was the year we declared bankruptcy.

2012 was a tough year.

It was also the year I turned 30. It's a significant number because of the 0 at the end of it...and because it marks the end of the 20s, where everything magical was supposed to happen.

My 20s were magical - I graduated university, I married the love of my life, I established a writing career, I became a mother in 2009, I took a writing course with Miriam Toews, I became a mother again in 2011, I started my novel, and I learned more about myself than I ever knew existed.

To kick off my 30s, I decided I'd start a gratitude journal. The concept is nothing new. Oprah does it. There are apps for it. And Wikipedia even acknowledges it.

With 2012 being the year of really crappy stuff happening, I wanted to celebrate my new decade and 2013 with positivity. It sounds hokey and a little hippy-ish, but I was sick of only seeing the list above of all the bad stuff that happened and not remembering the good moments.

So far, I've been very faithful to it: every night before I go to bed I write down three things that were good. (I went with the List of 3 inspiration from Lauren of My Postpartum Voice - she often tweets about it and I liked the sound of "List of 3"...so I stole it. That's how that went.)

Some days I really need to hunt for things. I feel like I should be marking down extraordinary things, but most days they don't exist. It is in the hunt for three things to be especially grateful for that I realize that the ordinary good things that happen to us far outweigh the bad most days.

Some days I have to work hard to pare it down and ONLY pick three. I'm a rule follower and I have set these rules and I will follow them DAMMIT. Those are good days. :)

The most frequent thing I'm grateful for is coffee. With 2 babies 3 and under, this is not surprising. This is normal.

I think it's working, though, in helping me always look for the good. I haven't started looking for it during the day, just at night, but I feel like that is the next step. If I can find the good in reflection, then I will one day recognize the good in the moment. That sounds like an even better day.