Happiness is a Minor Change Away

My Happiness Project has been on temporary hiatus for the past two weeks while I get back on my feet.  But I’m back up and running again, and so I’ve recommitted to my January and February goals.  From January, I am continuing to stick to my bedtime.  And even Chris is joining in on the fun now.  He gets bored sitting downstairs without me, so he has been coming to bed when I do.  It’s actually been good for him, too.  He even told me the other day he feels happier!  I’m also still going through my bedtime routine every night – washing my face, taking off all my jewelry, brushing my teeth, moisturizing, fighting wrinkles with wrinkle cream.  All that stuff that I have to do in order to look naturally “fresh faced” now that I’m in my 30’s.

From February, except for the past two weeks, I’ve been sticking to my smoothie routine pretty good.  I’m even starting to enjoy them.  I gave a good valiant effort at eliminating all sweets, but that made me decidedly UNhappy.  So, now I just try a little thing called moderation.  So far, it’s working out pretty good.  And I have also done good with my snacking.  I’m not a big snacker, but I now have a nice snacking routine and menu.  I have a mid-morning snack of a Kashi Dark Mocha Almond bar when I’m teaching every day.  Those suckers are filling, too!  That holds me over until lunch like a charm.  I also usually have a snack with the kids when we get home from school, and I eat whatever I feed them, which is usually fruit.

I tell you what, though.  Even without my assigned “happiness goals,” I’ve been feeling pretty happy lately.  And you know what has done it?  Being outside with the kids!


Work has wiped me out since I’ve been back, and by the time we get home, my body gives me two options: sit or fall asleep standing up. Having a family, I can’t really afford to do either.

But then it hit me one afternoon.



Who says when I get home from work, I have to start the mad dash of dinner/baths/bedtime right away? So what if dinner is a little later? So what if the kids go to bed at 8:00 instead of 7:30? What’s the big deal?

And that’s where the happiness comes in… IT ISN’T A BIG DEAL! It really isn’t. If I’m not DOING something every waking moment of my day, it just isn’t that big of a deal. If dinner is later or chores don’t get done, well, there’s always tomorrow, kids.


And so, almost every afternoon for the past week and a half, I have been sitting in my driveway watching the kids play. It requires very little movement from me, which my feet appreciate. And it is so good for all of us to let some energy off at the end of a school day. Usually, the kids play for about an hour, and then we go inside and I get dinner in the oven. Then, while it’s cooking, we go back outside and take a long walk through our neighborhood.


I walk the dogs while the kids ride their bikes or drive their cars or sometimes I even throw Lucy in the wagon with them and Big Molly and I pull the three of them around.


It has been such a hit for all of us, that I’ve changed how I menu plan. I have added more crock pot meals to my week (usually we have 2 a week now) and we eat leftovers once or twice a week. I also make sure that dinner can either come together really quickly or has a long bake time so that I can go back outside. I don’t want to be tied to my kitchen. I want to be outside just as much as the kids do. And that is making me supremely happy these days.


I love my happiness project goals, and I’m excited to pick up my routine again this week. But I’m so happy to find that immense, long-last happiness is sometimes only a minor change away.


(P.S. Please look at this picture of Gracie. Last week, the kids were playing tee ball in the front yard, and Bean taught her how to play outfield. He told her to back up and hold her arms out so she could catch the ball. This is her stance while she waits for him to hit. Her face is so intense! It cracks me up!!!!!)


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16 Thoughts to “Happiness is a Minor Change Away”

  1. Trish D

    I thought she was cheering!! Great pictures

  2. jamie

    i LOVE that you hang out outside when you get home instead of rushing in to start your usual routine! i bet the kids love it too! could you share your crockpot meals? i love to use mine as often as i can but i only have a few recipes. {tapping chin} i’ll check your pinterest. praying that this week brings you much strength and back to feeling one hundred percent.

  3. I’m reading The Happiness Project right now, I’m in November. I didn’t love this book but I am so glad I read it. I’ve been taking notes and hope to implement some new goals into my daily routine. Happiness is always a great thing to strive for!

    I have a smoothie you should try if you are craving chocolate. It’s really good!

    1 very ripe banana, 3/4 c. almond milk, cup of spinach (optional), 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1.5 tablespoons of cocoa powder.

    It’s so good!! Yum!

    I’m really glad you are feeling better! Take care of yourself! You imaginary friends need you around!! xoxo

  4. Katherine

    I can’t get over looking at all your outside pictures this winter. Living in the frozen tundra that is Chicago, it’s do hard to imagine being able to play outside after school. 🙂

    How do you think the Connecticut to Glorida weather change has affected your quality of life? What about in February vs. August?

  5. September

    Please share any good crock pot recipes! I have baby #3 due in another month and a half and I’m trying to get a stockpile of quick recipes and freezer meals to tide me over.

  6. Lindsey

    I loved this post! Being outside is good for the soul. I’m originally from Florida but have lived in Utah for the past 8 years. I love it here but the winters are a DOOZY. It’s sunshine and mild temps this week so I plan on following your lead and enjoying it!!

  7. HeatherM

    Gah, when did Gracie lose all her baby fat? She looks like a big girl now.
    One question for you- vitamin k is known to speed up the way the blood clots. Foods high in vitamin k are leafy greens like spinach, kale, etc. do you think it is possible that adding more vitamin k to your diet may have contributed to your TIA? Also, have your doctors given you the okay to start eating kale again? I would suggest making sure you have the okay from your doctors first- especially since adding kale (and thus vitamin k) is one of the things you did differently in the weeks leading up to your TIA. Last but not least- if you do have the okay from your docs to eat leafy greens again- I discovered Target sells frozen kale & frozen spinach for cheaper then the fresh stuff. The one thing that keeps me from adding this to my smoothies is that the greens go bad so quickly, but now I don’t have that issue 🙂

  8. Courtney Sloane

    I’m loving that you’re loving the outside instead of immediately starting your routine. It’s amazing how a little change can make so much of a difference!

    That Gracie picture is too adorable! When my brother first started tee-ball he was tiny, and his glove was too heavy for his little self. He spent the first half of the season with his right hand holding up his glove and left hand.

  9. This reminds me of summertime at our house. Too bad we’ve got 2 feet of snow on the ground. I miss playing outside! (PS, I’m originally from Florida, but live in CT)

  10. I’d love to know more about your meal planning routine. I always struggle with this and I hate the evenings. I walk in the door from work with the kids jumping around looking for dinner. It’s so hard! I’d love to know more about what you make?

  11. Grandma Barnes

    Katie – you are on the right track. When Beanie and Gracie are grown,
    they will only remember the good times outside playing after daycare and
    not how fast you had the meal ready! So proud of you. Love, Grandma

  12. jenny-bird

    It’s so good to hear that your would is settling down and you’re taking the time to enjoy it. When you’re so focused on moving from task to task, it’s easy to move past the moment, rather than tnjoy the moment. Enjoy your week! (p.s. I’m so jealous of your green grass! I still have 20-odd inches of snow.)

  13. Suzanne

    Thank you for this! I love this post. Sometimes we get so caught up in the “it must be done NOW routine” that we forget to enjoy life. I’ve been trying to make a conscious effort to do that lately. Granted, my baby is only 15 weeks old but I’ll never get this time back. She’s so much fun to watch coo and smile and roll around but I can’t enjoy it if I’m running around the house like a mad woman.

    Glad your happiness project is coming along nicely 🙂

  14. It’s very inspiring to see how you’re so committed to your goals, while being smart enough to adjust them when needed. Looks like you guys are having a great time in your afternoons!

  15. I’ve been on a “simplify dinner” kick this year, too! It’s only my husband and me, but I was imposing an arbitrary deadline/schedule on eating dinner. Once I relinquished that a little I felt so much happier and free-er in the evenings! We’ll eat when we eat, and that’s okay! Plus I’m embracing leftovers, too (though I use the bulk of those for lunches), and takeout a little more often.

  16. […] two weeks have been full of deliciously unimportant-important time spent with my kids and Chris.  Afternoons are low-key and slow-paced for once.  I’ve been leaving work on time instead of staying later, which means afternoons […]

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