Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Come on ovaries, you can do it!

It's been 2.5 weeks since our engagement retreat when I ditched my birth control. So far, so good, but I'm getting really nervous about the re-emergence of PCOS symptoms. I can't remember how long it took for them to appear after I went off of birth control in 2009. I take it back- I have noticed a symptom. I've noticed my hair thinning out a bit, which I've read that happens with PCOS and happens sometimes when people go off the pill. Since I have the double whammy, I guess that makes sense, but I hope it's not a long lasting thing because I have super fine hair to begin with. There's only one small area I notice it in, and I'm sure no one else does, but it still bothers me. I don't remember this happening last time. I guess it could all be in my head. I'm trying to look at this as a lesson in not being vain. If my hair thins and I get chin acne (which is what happened last time I went off the pill since PCOS causes a hormonal imbalance, which means the kind of acne that can't be treated topically), I would like to be able to brush it off, knowing that "me" is not made up by my looks. But it's not an easy lesson to learn! Our self worth is so tied into our appearance, so it definitely doesn't come second nature for me to think about not caring about what I look like. I'll work on it though because it would certainly be freeing and because stressing about it only further messes up my hormones and increases my symptoms.

I'm also really excited, anxious, and nervous to see what my cycle is like.... or if it exists. I'll find out in the next two weeks. Since I have no clue what a "normal" cycle is for me, there isn't a specific date I'm looking for, but it will have been 4-5 weeks since my last period by that time. I think I'll cry if I do get it and cry if I don't- they will just be two very different cries. I'm giving myself a lot of encouragement because I don't want to self sabotage by not starting and then saying all these life changes aren't worth it. I know they are, even if I struggle with PCOS forever. But of course I want all this hard work to pay off in a really obvious way.

Monday, November 28, 2011

You get what you pay for!

Sometimes my frugal side fights with my quality loving side, since cheap does not always usually equal high quality. My advent calendar and wreath came which I am excited about, but...

The advent wreath appears to be metal, and I'm sure it's some percentage of metal, but it's really bendable. Not a huge problem except that the holes for taper candles are too big, so you really have to wedge the candle down in the hole for them to not fall out and, you know, light your wooden kitchen table on fire. This not only bends the metal of the wreath, but also leaves a pile of wax shavings on your table and means the wreath is actually sitting on the bottom of the tapers, not on the metal. If that made sense. It's a little bit of a bummer, but I'm still glad I paid about $10 online for it rather than almost $35 in my local Catholic store. I mean, I'm all for shopping local, but do you know how sad I would have been if I had bought that for $35? For $10, I'm going to suck it up and use it until we have little hands that are trying to grab at it, and then we'll get a high quality (read: expensive) wreath that holds the candles in better and doesn't bend.

Next, the advent calendar... the drawers only have a groove on one side to pull them out, and they pack it groove side turned in. Which means I knicked and slightly tore multiple drawers just trying to get them out! They should really be grooved on either side. And I think I would have paid more for them to be made out of a really thin wood rather than paperboard. Little fingers could never get the drawers open, so it's another thing that will have to be replaced when we have kids old enough to participate.

Oh well, $19 gone but both items should last us at least the next 3 Christmases. And more important than the quality is the fact that we have two things at home that will help us engage in the Advent season, which I'm really excited about!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Stocking the Freezer

One of my favorite things to do is stock my freezer. Well, stocking is sometimes fun, sometimes not, depending on the day, my mood, etc. But I love having it stocked because it makes my job so easy for the next few weeks, if not longer. Right now, it's stocked with cheddar biscuits, pizza pockets, and pumpkin chocolate chip muffins (all recipes from All three are made with white whole wheat, which is just as healthy as regular whole wheat, but with a lighter flavor. We go through a ton of it but, lucky for us, it's very affordable in the Trader Joe's brand. We also make a TON of stuff from one bag.

 I made the cheddar biscuits almost two months ago. They were really intense to make (it involved cutting a stick of butter into pea sized pieces...) but for it to last me probably 3 months, I think it's worth it. They only have natural, whole ingredients so there isn't the guilt that I have when making Pilsbury. Plus, if I make Pilsbury we will eat the entire can of them. With these, we just pull 2 out of the freezer, microwave them for about 20 seconds, and they're ready.

 Pizza pockets are also somewhat intense to make, mostly because it takes an hour or more to put them together. Once you have the technique down, they're fun to make, in my opinion. We make a double batch every time and they last us between two to three weeks. A double batch makes 12, so 6 meals for us. They're a great option to take for lunches or for dinner when we don't have time to cook. Again, they are made from whole, natural ingredients, though we need to work on our cheese source because sometimes we get it from Food Lion when we should be getting the higher quality cheese from Trader Joe's. They take about 2 minutes in the microwave and are SO filling. They are actually calzones, I think, but we call them pizza pockets because that's what the website calls them. We used to eat hot pockets ALL the time, and I feel so much better knowing how few ingredients are in these compared to hot pockets, and how healthy they are in comparison. We did the math one day, and each pizza pocket came in under a dollar. I'm sorry, but you can't beat that! Healthy doesn't always have to be expensive.

This afternoon, I just restocked the freezer with pumpkin muffins. Ok... chocolate chip pumpkin muffins. You won't find chocolate chips in the original recipe but I added them once, and now I'm hooked. If you don't use much, you can get high quality (read: not processed and full of things you can't pronounce) chocolate chips and they will last a while. Off of one bag, I can usually make 1-2 batches of chocolate chip cookies (also whole wheat and on the above mentioned website) and 1-2 batches of muffins. Anyway, I usually make one batch of the muffins, but did 2 today because we are totally out. They are a great grab and go breakfast along with a piece of fruit (and a yogurt, depending on how far away lunch is, but I have to eat yogurt sparingly with PCOS). I will keep about half out on my cupcake plate, and we will probably have them each morning until they're gone, and then the other half in the freezer which we eat here and there until they are gone.

So, even though quick, packaged, processed, microwavable (etc) food appeals to my lazy side, stocking the freezer has really helped me to be so much healthier but to not have to stress all the time about cooking. If I made each of these things every time we needed/wanted them, I highly doubt I would stick with it. I'm sure that will be doubly true when we have children to feed. But if I can spend an hour or two here or there making a really big batch of something, and then be done for a while, it feels completely worth it. There is a sense of satisfaction that comes from feeding someone you love and knowing exactly what's in everything you serve. When I used to serve packaged/processed foods, I never really got that satisfaction. I think there is really something to putting love in your food. Often times when we pray before dinner, Steven thanks God for having me in his life to prepare healthy meals. Man, does that put me over the moon and make it all worth it!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Blogging Platforms

This is so silly, but sometimes I feel bad for "abandoning" xanga, which is where I blogged for 8 years (and still do sporatically due to guilt of leaving something I kept that long). But I often get reminders of why I left... or you know, am very slowly leaving, and today was no exception. On the front page of xanga, there are about 12 entries that flash across the screen, 4 at a time and all with a picture. Sometimes they are really good. There are ones about marriage, families, childbirth, etc. However, they are more often than not super trashy including things like "I cheated. Should I tell?" or "Which (super short, cleavage baring) dress should I wear to the party?". You click on the title/picture and are taken to the entry if you want to read it, but you can't NOT see those small blurbs when you go to xanga. When I just went to check my subscriptions, the one that flashed was "To Cheat or not to Cheat?" followed by "College Candy: 10 Best Places to Hook Up This Thanksgiving". I couldn't have chosen a better time to move to blogger! I love that I come straight to my page when I come here, and only see other pages if I choose to go to them. There's no front page filled with trash and I'm finding that really refreshing! Looks like I will have to add my current xanga subscriptions to Google reader and follow those there.

7 Quick Takes

--- 1 ---

So I figured out how to get the template in my post, and I figured out how to schedule my post for a later date. But is there a way for our link to show up on Conversion Diary's page without us having to go over there and manually do it on Friday mornings? I might skip Fridays like today (right after a holiday- prime family time!) if there isn't, so I thought I'd check.

--- 2 ---

So I just figured out Google Reader, which I've never used before. I spent about an hour getting all my favorite blogs to appear on it and then promptly decided that I just don't love it. I get so much more satisfaction from going to my "blogs" favorites folder and individually clicking on all the blogs, than just going to reader and scrolling down the page.

--- 3 ---

I feel a little cheated by the advent calendar I bought from Catholic Gifts and More. It all started at Trader Joe's on Saturday, when I was standing in line at the register. I noticed their 99 cent advent calendars where you pop out the number and get a piece of candy (and was telling Steven no, we could not buy that, we do not need the candy, and we will have our very own nice advent calendar- see? prepping for motherhood!). I realized when looking at it, because the line was particularly long so I was really giving it a once over, that it only has 24 days on it. And then it dawned on me that Advent has more than 24 days. So you can't really start an advent calendar at the beginning of advent. I came home and googled it and read that most advent calendars are secular and actually are just a count down to Christmas from December 1st... not from the beginning of advent, which made me really sad! So I thought surely the one I bought from a Catholic online store wouldn't be secular but... I checked the site and it is. I know it'd be hard because advent probably doesn't have the same number of days each year, but I'd rather a calendar with some drawers that don't get used or something, but can actually begin with advent. I don't like the thought of trying to teach my kids advent when I'm really just teaching them a secular method of counting down to presents. Good thing I have a couple years to come up with a plan. Like maybe the first day we all write the things on slips, the second day we place them in the drawers and the drawers in the tree, etc. But alas, it was a sad realization. (This was a long take.)

--- 4 ---

Does your family have any silly Thanksgiving traditions? One that my family has developed probably over the past 5 years is having a dog show contest. The national dog show comes on after the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade (which we have watched every year for forever). The dog show tradition started in the years that it was just me and my parents for Thanksgiving. We each pick a dog in each category that we think will win, and you get one point every time your chosen dog wins. It's silly but so much fun. I'm pretty sure my mom has won every year we have done it. I don't have great picking skills, and dad usually craps out halfway through the contest so his points don't count lol. I look forward to it now every year.

--- 5 ---

I'm excited to get back to Raleigh on Friday night and decorate with my love! Of course, I'm not wishing away the time with my family at all because we will all be together for Thanksgiving this year, which rarely happens (by all, I mean all 5 of us immediate family members.... it's surprisingly hard to get us all in one place). But I'm also excited for my drive back to Raleigh when I listen to Christmas music until my ears fall off. Then, when I get home, we'll put on even more Christmas music and decorate. My tree is going downstairs and his is going upstairs so it will be very festive!

--- 6 ---

My sister said when she reads my quick takes, sometimes she wants more information and sometimes she feels like I'm just filling space. I informed her that I'm not just filling space... I'm just very good at rambling. And if she or anyone else ever wants to know more about something, all you have to do is comment. Since I'm good at rambling, you know I'll happily expand on any given topic. :)

--- 7 ---
So, I said I was going to try not to overeat this year. But um... I may have ruined that already. (And I'm writing this particular take at 9am on Thanksgiving.) The good news is that we haven't had any really "bad" stuff... so at least I'm overeating fairly healthy things. Yes, that will help me sleep tonight.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

So even for a good Catholic cause, I can't bring myself to pay for a full price movie. We hit up Stimulus Tuesday every single week (2 tickets, two drinks, and two popcorns for $8) so that we can see all the movies we want to see, and even some we don't. But for $8, we have seen a lot of movies we never thought we would like and ended up loving, which is the point. I'd never take the risk at $10 per ticket. We have gone specifically to laugh at movies that we knew would be terrible, and we don't have a feeling of regret afterwards because it was cheap. But I digress, as usual. When The Mighty Macs came to what we call the "real" theater, I was SO tempted. A wholesome, Catholic movie! I really wanted to support it. But man, $20 for two movie tickets and no snacks? I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I was sad because I 'knew' it wouldn't come to the dollar fifty theater. Which, by the way, I continue to call the dollar fifty even though the price went up to $2. So I was very surprised and very happy when we checked the new movies Friday, as we always do, and saw The Mighty Macs came! The Help is also there, which I'm beyond excited about, but I'm not sure I'll be done with the book by Tuesday, and that's more likely to last two weeks than The Mighty Macs. I <3 cheap date night!!!!

In other news, we are working on a couple's workbook given to us at our retreat last weekend. It's the workbook you do if you go to the one day workshop instead of the weekend, but they gave it to us to take home. We've done two exercises so far and really like it! I love that we did the weekend retreat and got that format, and now can do this one. The second exercise we did had us list, in order of importance, 6 elements that make up a successful/happy marriage. We had to discuss them, especially our top 3, and then agree on the top 3 in a combined list. It led to a two hour conversation that we got SO much out of. Sometimes it was frustrating, but we came out if it with so much more information and understanding. It was a conversation we might not otherwise have though to have. So two thumbs up for the "A Marriage in the Lord" workbook.

And last but not least, I learned a very valuable lesson today. We went to Steven's grandma's house for Thanksgiving dinner (they do it on the Sunday before Thanksgiving so all the families can have their own Thanksgiving on the actual day just with immediate families). I promised myself I would enjoy myself but not go all out and eat everything I wanted, like I normally do. I made this decision because of alterations coming up, but also because I know the slightest thing can throw off my hormonal balance/fertility/PCOS when it comes to food. So I definitely ate things I don't normally eat, especially because his family is verrrry Southern, but I watched my portions. I had things like corn pudding, a roll, ham, sweet potatoes, a deviled egg, blackberry pie, and a sliver of some kind of cake. All they serve for drink is sweet tea (I only ever drink water but always drink sweet tea at their get togethers because that's just what people do and I've yet to be brave enough to go against the grain- silly, I know). So not horrible, especially because I watched portions, but definitely out of the ordinary for me. Well, I crashed and burned HARD on the drive home. I was sleepy, irritable, and just felt gross. I didn't even feel super over full since I ate small amounts of everything, but felt so disgusting because my blood sugar was plummeting. It was a good lesson for me- that I need to watch it a little bit more if I don't want to feel that way, and how even the slightest change from what is now normal (whole foods, fruits/veggies, healthy grains) makes me feel like crap. I mean, it kind of sucked because it would be nice to know I can splurge every now and again and not be that affected, but it was good too because it's built in incentive to NOT splurge and get carried away. After an hour, I bounced back to normal, but that hour was miserable! And poor Steven had to spend it in the car with me lol. So blood sugar, I heard you loud and clear!!!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

I may qualify as a Catholic geek...

Am I a geek if I super love something that 9 times out of 10 is directed towards children? For the record, I'm totally fine with that. I ordered an advent calendar yesterday and was a little perplexed as to what to do with it. I was thinking long term of having children when I picked it out and so, out of the options of place a magnet somewhere, take felt squares off to reveal a saying etc, or open sweet little drawers.... it was the drawers hands down. But then I was thinking, well what am I going to do with it until I have kids? Just put it up for seasonal display? And THEN I thought, when I have kids, I probably won't want to shove it full of candy (as is a tradition with advent calendars) because gosh, aren't my kids going to get ENOUGH candy between Christmas stockings, school, CCD, etc? So that's when I came up with the brilliant (if I may say so myself) idea of honoring the Holy Family by putting family activities in there. There would be one for each day and could be super simple all the way to an activity that we leave the house to do together. And THEN (do you see a pattern?) I thought... why not start this year??? We aren't 'technically' family yet, but we are certainly doing a lot of prep work to ensure that we will be a family forever after April, so might as well get started. So we talked last night about some ideas which, again, could be as simple as give each other a really tight hug or as complex as go out for a nice dinner. Obviously most drawers will contain something simple for the fact that we are super frugal and also super busy these days. But I'm looking forward to opening that drawer and finding that moment together no matter how crazy a day was. We're going to split up slips of paper and each do half, then randomly put them in drawers so we won't know what we're getting when. And can I tell you that I am sooooo excited for advent to start???

Friday, November 18, 2011

7 Quick Takes

1. I am ridiculously excited about the Christmas parade tomorrow. I am anti all things Christmas before Thanksgiving, but I have to give in for this because it's too good to miss. I went by myself the first year I lived in Raleigh, and it actually started in front of my apartment building (which was awesome to watch the groups line up, balloon float things get blown up, etc.). I didn't know anyone still, but just walked out my apartment door and set up my camping chair on the sidewalk with my blanket. It was awesome. Last year, one of my friends came up for the weekend and we went together. This year, I was so excited about Steven going but his work schedule got made before I told him to take off. This week, they switched him from open to close so... he can go!! I am giddy like a 5 year old about this parade; it's really fun!

2. Have you ever gone to confession, confessed, been absolved, left feeling great, and then realized the next day that you forgot to confess a mortal sin? I've read mixed things, but most people seem to agree that you are absolved because you had the intention and didn't go in there hiding it, but that you should still go to confession again to confess it. This is why I need prep time before entering the confessional... because going twice in 7 days feels like a bit much lol.

3. I emailed the NFP coordinator today. I'm super antsy for her response back. I have no clue if there is a cost involved and I'm nervous but anxious to find out. We meet with our instructor 5 times in 3 months and then a few times after that just to make sure we're on the right track. I really want to get started, and there are apps for almost every method but the one we are using, so I really can't do anything until we learn it.

4. Why does my cat eat EVERYthing in her sight? I had to pull my book "The Help" away from her yesterday, and she then licked the coffee table legs and glass top. Today I had to take Steven's brand new Sonic comic away from her. It's not like she doesn't have food or toys!!! She might need therapy.

5. I just ate and I'm hungry again. I know it's not true hunger (I can tell a difference in the feeling), but it's not any easier to resist.  And I ate protein first, as I've learned is the best way to keep the blood sugar at bay. Grrrrr.

6.  Do you ever watch a show that bothers you so much but you can't turn it off? That's how I feel with Toddlers In Tiaras on TLC. I can't stand it, yet I can't bring myself to turn an episode off if it comes on after something I was watching. I also have this problem with Real Housewives (though some times, admittedly, I love it) but we are working on cutting that out. It's just not normal.

7. After like 5 weeks of saying I'd do it, I bought Advent candles this week. That means I should have the wreath by next Advent.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


I'm super excited! We just set up our intro session to the Creighton Model of NFP for December 3rd. Our instructor is in Wake Forest, which I'm a little bummed about because there is one in Raleigh, but apparently the Raleigh one wasn't accepting new clients. I love that Steven is completely supportive of us using NFP. I know a lot of guys would either be against it (fear of the unknown) or just not really care, figuring it's the woman's job to do whatever method of birth control she wants. He's going to help me chart every night so he won't ever have to ask about fertile/infertile times... because he will know since he is involved. Makes my heart happy! I am certainly not wishing a 5day weekend and Thanksgiving away, but I am so ready to get started!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My Diagnosis of PCOS

Looking back, it's amazing and a bit ridiculous that I wasn't diagnosed with PCOS when I was 18. When I went to my gynecologist my first year of college, I told her how I didn't have regular periods. That they had been somewhat reguar the first few years I'd had it, but the past few I never could plan for it. Sometimes it came, sometimes it didn't and it was never predictable. I didn't really have any other textbook symptoms, but the gynecologist put me on birth control without ever mentioning any reasoning behind my elusive cycle.

Fast forward a bunch of years. When I moved to Raleigh, I decided to go off the pill. I sort of felt like there wasn't a reason for it, and why keep putting synthetic hormones in my body? So I went off and that's when it all started. I was a textbook case but didn't know it. I had some of the facial hair (luckily it wasn't noticeable to anyone else, though it was painfully obvious to me), acne on my chin- the painful, cystic type, and some on my upper back. I just sort of figured the acne was from going off birth control and didn't think much more of it. I went off of the pill in April probably, and was due for my next yearly appointment in January. By the time that appointment rolled around, I think I had had 2 periods (and one was from going off the pill, so only one true one). I told the doctor that, and she immediately connected my other symptoms. She sent me for bloodwork, which in fact showed that I have more testosterone and estrogen than is normal. (Sidenote: When I told Steven I had more testosterone than the average woman he said "that explains some things"... I still harbor resentment from that comment lol!... he was right, I just didn't think he should say it!) She had me come back in after the blood test for an internal ultrasound which showed what is called "the strand of pearls" in the medical field. You can see your ovaries on the ultrasound, which are larger than normal typically with PCOS (mine were) and they have these little white balls in a circle all the way around them... hence the diagnoses- polycystic ovarian syndrome. With PCOS, the follicles don't, or rarely, mature and are released as an egg, starting ovulation and a period. Instead, they stay immature and so they aren't released... this happens for a while and you have the "strand of pearls".

I liked that gynecologist VERY much. She was kind, comforting, and gave me a lot of information. She stayed with me until my last question was answered. What I will never forgive her, and the medical field in general, for though, is telling me that birth control was the answer. She put me back on it, saying that's the treatment for PCOS.

About a year later, around the time we got engaged, I decided to do my own research into PCOS. I had been told by my gynecologist that getting pregnant probably wouldn't be a big deal- she'd just put me on Clomid and that usually works. But I knew that a) I really don't want multiples for financial reasons and b) there had to be SOME other way than being on the pill my entire life with rounds of Clomid when I want to conceive. I was right. After months and MONTHS of researching, and even being able to review a information packed, not yet published book about PCOS, I have learned just how important lifestyle is in PCOS. I couldn't even list everything here, but some of the most important things I found were:

I need to stay away from meat and dairy as much as possible. I eat cheese in limited quantities because I love it, and we try to have meat either only as a side dish (so it's a much smaller portion), or as the main dish only once or twice a week. The meat we do eat is hormone free. This is because animals and given growth hormones to become big fast. Besides it being cruel to the animal who can't even stand up because of it's size, the added hormones wreak havoc on my already unbalanced hormones. Dairy has tons of hormones because something like 90% of the cows are pregnant or just had a calf. Same issue as the meat as far as it's effect on my body.

I need to eat a whole foods lifestyle. This applies to everyone, but definitely affects me. Processed, packaged foods react in my body even worse than most. Most people burn 3 out of every 4 carbs and store the extra 1. My body stores 3 out of 4, only burning 1. Processed, packaged foods are known for starchy, empty carbs and also for chemicals and preservatives which further confuse my body. Our bodies recognize the foods our ancestors ate.... fruits, veggies, whole grains, etc. So this is how I've begun eating probably 90% of the time. (10% is for when we go out to eat at a place that doesn't offer this type of food, when we go to someone's house, etc.)

I need to be on a supplement regimen. Yes, there are medications that will help my insulin level and my hormone level. But they all come at a cost, with side effects that often mean you have to be on yet another medication. Why do that when nature provides herbs for us that do the same thing? I won't take any of these without seeing a naturopath, because you can kill yourself on supplements if you mix the wrong thing or too much of a bunch of things, but research has proven that things like licorice and saw palmetto lower testosterone. There is a huge list of supplements for people with PCOS and their functions- ones that help with insulin sensitivity (the main issue of PCOS where all the problems stem from) so it's a matter of figuring out which ones are best for your body and in which combination. I'm currently on a few supplements that don't have danger, and will see a naturopath after we get married to add the others.

So as you can see, PCOS has changed my entire way of life. As much as it would be SO nice to not have PCOS, to not have to worry about my fertility, I can't deny what a blessing it has been in my life. I don't know that I ever would have looked toward a natural lifestyle... I would probably have never done the research on just how much products like cleaners, processed foods, etc. were affecting my body (PCOS or not, they do damage- just additional damage since I have it). I wouldn't have ever made the farmer's market my weekly produce shop, and would have continued supporting farmers from states far away and even other countries. Now I support farmers from at most a county or two away. I never would have examined my food to see what my body needs that it's not getting. There are so many positive changes I've made in my life because of having PCOS so, as annoying as it is to have this condition, I'm not sure if I would change it.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Engagement retreat... a success!!!!

So after posting my 7 Quick Takes on Friday, I realized (at the midst of my engagement retreat yesterday) that I never changed my settings so that everyone could see my blog. I still had it set so only my sister could see it. It's fixed now, though. Before I go into the absolutely amazing weekend we had, I made a decision about sharing my blog. I've decided that I will just "pick and choose" which people I actually know in person can read my blog, but, otherwise, anyone in the world is free to read it. I'm hoping it's a place to give inspiration, to get help/advice/stories, and just somewhere for me to chronicle the most important parts of my life. Having said that, it will include a lot of super personal things about my body including things many people would find TMI and, honestly, I wouldn't want them to read. For example, if I write a post about doing NFP and my trouble tracking cervical mucus changes... I don't really want my future father-in-law or someone I know through work to necessarily have that information. But there are certain friend and family I don't mind sharing that with, since they can choose whether or not they want to read it. If people I don't know are reading it, it doesn't bother me.

On to our weekend. I knew that our pre-marital retreat would be special (I was hoping, anyway), but I had absolutely no idea just how much of a life changer it would be for us. I hesitate to let the stories flow, because this entry would be so long. At the same time, I feel like a summary doesn't really do it justice. I wish I could write about every single aspect!

We arrived at The Avila Center in Durham on Friday night. Google maps said it would take 40 minutes, so we left 90 minutes early to allow for traffic and because I'm an early bird. Once we started GPS in the car, it said 1 hr 7 min (which is insane since Durham is like 30 min away). PLUS there were like 3 wrecks along the main road we were on. I was so antsy, because I hate being late and really didn't want to miss the beginning, but thankfully we got there with just a few minutes to spare. We were really surprised when we got there. There were 5 engaged couples, 2 presenting couples, and 1 couple evaluating the weekend because they currently teach the day session and are interested in switching. I thought there'd be like 100 people there! The vast majority of couples choose the 1 day, but with only 4 weekend retreats (and 3 this year since the summer one got cancelled) I was really surprised. It made me nervous being in such a small group, but I knew it would turn out to be a good thing. The Avila Center is beautiful, set out in nature with cabin like amenities. Simple and really sweet. You can tell it's made for smaller groups; I just didn't know that until I got there. The room we spent most of the weekend in had a wood burning stove (that we used most of the time except the afternoons) and padded, comfortable rocking chairs in a big circle that we sat in. So unexpected and I loved it! Friday night was a bit bland. There were cool parts, like everyone getting a Bible and discussing how marriage is presented in various verses. But the wife of the main presenting couple was a bit hard to follow, both because she had an accent and because she is brilliant (a mathemetician) and would sometimes go above my head. So that night, I went to bed hoping for more the next day. Speaking of bed, they put the women in the cabins with super tiny bedrooms, each with one twin bed, and dorm style bathrooms (two bathrooms/showers for the hall)... and the guys in big rooms with two twin beds and jack&jill bathrooms! What??? It so should have been the other way around!

But it was all worth it when I had time to kill Saturday morning. The nuns rang the bell for breakfast at 8, but I got up at 6:45 so I wouldn't have to worry about waiting on a shower and being late. Of course, this meant I was ready by 7:20! Each room had a door that led to the hallway, and another door that led to a long back porch, with a really beautifully crafted wood chair at each back door. I went out there and sat down in the 28 degree weather and my breath was taken away. No, not from the cold. From the view of the woods, changing leaves, prayer gazebos in the distance, amount of benches placed throughout the property for reflection, the prayer labyrinth (which we did and loved!), and mostly the life sized Crucifix set under a huge tree with vibrant red leaves that the sun was shining right through. I was awed into silence, which doesn't happen much. I sat for a bit, and then walked around taking some pictures until Steven came. We had breakfast in the dining room, family style. Then the fun began. Saturday was one of the most important days of my entire life, and of our relationship.

The topics for the day were honesty about sex before marriage, communication, and finance. In the first one, a fairly newly married couple gave a talk about how their decisions before marriage have affected them. They talked about what society teaches man and women about sex (women are there to please the man, instant gratification, men using love to get sex and women using sex to get love, etc.) and how toxic that is on marriages. They talked about personal experiences they had before marriage and almost a recovery process they had to go through, which for them included not having sex for 2 months before marriage (from the day they went on the weekend retreat until marriage). After each session was a reflection time for couples where you could go anywhere on the property. We chose a bench and Steven asked me what I thought about the lesson. I think I started crying right away. About a month ago, I asked Steven if we could stop having sex until we get married. It had been weighing on me for a little while, and I just had this feeling it was what we should do. I didn't approach it well, and he didn't react well; I dropped it. So anyway, I started crying and I told him he knew how I felt about the lesson. I had prayed the entire walk to the bench we chose that God would help him to see it like I was seeing it. Steven immediately, with no hesitation, said he would be ok with us not having sex. I told him I didn't want us to stop because I wanted to, but because WE wanted to and because it was what was best for our relationship. He completely agreed and said he had never thought about things the way the speakers presented it. He said that, growing up, the Christian belief wasn't really discussed in the baptist church... it was just to protect yourself if you do it, but that you shouldn't- point blank. I told him that the reason I had sex with him the first time in our relationship was because I felt like, from past experience and hurt, he might think I was a tease if I didn't, or might not stick around if I didn't do it eventually, etc. Of course now I know he isn't that kind of guy, but I didn't know that back then, and I told him I hate that that's what our sex life is based off of. I want our sex life to based purely off of intimacy, love, and God's plan for us.... not because of sexual impulses we claim to not be able to control etc. He said he thinks it will be really good for us to learn self control and to practice intimacy in other ways. I cried more, but this time out of relief and happiness. I'm not sure I've ever felt closer to him. We talked about practical aspects of how to help ourselves, since we are living together and about the need to communicate with each other and not shove anything under the rug. It will be a tough 5 months, but we also think very rewarding.

The communication and finance talks were really helpful... REALLY helpful! We talked about the dysfunction patterns we each have and found out our love language (his: quality time, mine: physical touch) and how that plays into a relationship. For finances we talked about what was valuable to each of us, helpful ways to budget, etc. It was somewhat basic, but also needed and even fun.

After dinner, I wanted to go to reconciliation because I wanted to get the pre-marital sex burden off my shoulders. Steven asked if he could go. I told him I honestly wasn't sure but would ask the priest when I was in there. The priest said yes, because he is in RCIA and has been baptized, he could go. I was floored and ecstatic that Steven felt the same way I did with the need to become free from that; amazing for someone who just recently started this whole process. When he walked back there, I had to fight back the tears. It was beyond words to see him head back for his first Catholic sacrament. The priest couldn't have been any better for it; he spent time with Steven explaining the entire process and helping him through. When Steven came back, he said he felt like a weight was lifted off. It's exactly the feeling I get after reconciliation, but I honestly thought he'd be too nervous/anxious to get that from it the first time. I was so happy for him. We had mass afterward, with an awesome q&a session with the priest following that, and then a cheese and whine social.

This morning, the talk was on sexual honestly within marriage. It was powerful. The talk was about how sex should never be because one person wants pleasure, and should only be spontaneous once we've learned not to have sex purely because someone is turned on, but because we are both really excited to have sex with one another. I know it seems obvious, but I can count a number of times where I did it as, what I felt was, an act of service for him and maybe he can count one or two times vice versa. But we agreed with the Church's viewpoint, that it should always be a uniting activity and not something where one is doing it for the other. We also had a couple come talk about NFP, which we were already planning to use after marriage. I asked the lady at the end if any instructor could teach it to me, or if I need to see someone special because of having PCOS. She told me to email her and she would set us up with an intro course, that the Creighton model is perfect for us, and that I am in luck living in Raleigh because there is an OBGYN who supports NFP that works with people with PCOS. I was SO relieved. After it was over, Steven and I went and sat in one of the prayer gazebos for our last reflection before we left. We had talked about me staying on the pill until we could afford for me to see a naturopath after we get married, since it would keep the symptoms at bay until then. But we decided that since we will have help before we are married from the dr (we didn't think we'd find a doctor willing to work closely with us on NFP and PCOS) then what better time than the present? So I won't be taking the pill anymore and yes, I am terribly afraid of the acne that comes with PCOS, but I'm hoping I can help it naturally over the next 5 months and have it at bay by the time we get married. If not, it's a sacrifice I have to make for knowing I'm doing the best thing for my body and my relationship. We are going to go ahead and learn the Creighton model and begin charting so we have it down when we get married. Yep, there's a chance we won't be able to have sex on our honeymoon, but we decided after 5 months... what's one more week? I'm just hoping it doesn't coincide!

So, now you get why I say it was a life changing weekend. We have come back from the retreat different people and I can't tell you how much I praised God this weekend for his choice of a husband for me. I have prayed so much over this past few years and I have been so blessed that it blows me away... first for someone to love and to love me, then when I had Steven, for him to consider becoming Catholic if it's what felt right to him, then after that point when God put the notion in my head for us to quit having sex, I began praying for God to give Steven that wisdom, and once that happened, you better believe I will praying for strength and grace these next 5 months! I will always look back on this weekend and be so thankful for the effect it has had on our relationship.

I have a lot I want to say about support/friends regarding our decisions of the weekend, but clearly I need to save that for another post!!!

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Can I tell you how excited I am about the scheduled post feature? I don't even know why it excites me so much, but it really does.

Anyway, I have some favorite blogs and thought I'd post where I get my inspiration from. I also have blogs I stalk for no good reason... those won't make it on the list. These are the ones that appeal to either my crunchy/healthy side or my Catholic side. I'm quite sure none of them know I read lol. I comment rarely, as I'm a better lurker. I mean, gatherer of information.

This blog changed my life. No, I'm not being dramatic. I found it one day about two months ago and haven't looked back. It made it practical and almost easy for me to change the way I was eating. I have yet to try a recipe that doesn't taste amazing, and the best part, to me, is that for some reason all the recipes I've tried taste even better out of the freezer. When you cook for two, that's a plus because there are always leftovers. I even make double batches of some things to make it more convenient for me, especially since it's so delicious reheated. I love that she doesn't just provide the recipes, but provides a ton of education. I am still learning so much from it. (By the way, not all the blogs will have this praise or this long of a description... I'm just the biggest fan ever of this one.)
She's super healthy AND she's super frugal. I think I'm in love! I've gotten some yet-to-try inspiration from this blog that is on my to-do list. Plus, I'm fascinated by how her family of 4 (soon to be 5) lives in under 500 sq. ft. HAPPILY. And a bit jealous. I secretly want to be a minimalist. Not happening, but I totally desire that lifestyle.
Recipes, information, inspiration, etc. I don't follow this one as obsessively as most, but I like to check it once a week or so. I am super excited to try progesterone cream one day which I learned about from her blog (going to see a naturopath first, and that won't be til after we get married).
I like her because she's health conscious and soooo interactive with her kids. I get lots of momspiration from blogs, if you couldn't tell. I like to continuously plan out the type of mothering and parenting I want to do when we start a family so I'm not still trying to figure that out when my future hypothetical 12 year old begins hormonal destruction. But anyway, she has a big focus on creative montessori activities.

She's funny, sassy, and has some cool stories.
I actually went to high school with the author and she was one of my best friends, which makes me feel blog-famous. Then again, I'm a blog nerd. (Did I mention this isn't my first blog? I have a 8+ year old blog, it's just that it's stale and has no direction.) Anyway, I don't have kids but I am super excited to do the crafts on her blog when I do. I always sort of wondered how you could get little kids so excited about something as complex as the Catholic faith but she makes it so simple and intuitive.
Actually, I don't read her blogs from that website. I read them from National Catholic Register, so I'm not sure if she posts the same thing in both places or not. Like Conversion Diary, she's funny. Actually, she's a riot. But I also like her content a lot.
This was one I found off of Conversion Diary's 7 Quick Takes and I've enjoyed. It's funny because I think she might actually live in Raleigh, but I know she at least lives in NC. She's a young, pregnant, Catholic wife and I like her perspective.

I'm always in need of new ways to waste time in front of the computer, so if you have a blog you love more than chocolate, I'd love for you to share it. Ok, just love it almost as much as chocolate, because otherwise I couldn't post any of the above blogs, and I want to.

Friday, November 11, 2011

7 Quick Takes

I've been reading 7 Quick Takes over at Conversion Diary for a few months now, and it's fascinating to me how random things about random people can be so interesting! Sometimes I will click on a few of the other entries on her post, and I've found some blogs that I enjoy following just by reading their 7 Quick Takes. I wonder if everyone thinks theirs is boring, and other people end up finding it fun to read? That's how I'm feeling as a Quick takes newbie!

1. I am BEYOND excited about our engagement retreat this weekend. For a year now, I have pointed at the Marriage Encounter blurbs in the bulletin when they come around and I tell Steven every time (even multiple weeks in a row- literally every time I see it!) that I want to go to those when we are married. So, even though I don't think this retreat has the technical "Engagement Encounter" name, I am super excited to get a taste of couples' retreats.

2. I'm really hoping since we opted for the weekend over the day, they will fully cover NFP versus just the intro. I have read all about it, but I'd like an actual in-person class about it. Of course, I can always seek it out if they don't provide it. There is a parish in Wake Forest where almost all the women use NFP so I will probably contact them (there has to be someone who has PCOS and does NFP).

3. In my 'about me', I neglected to mention my cat. She has made me a crazy cat lady (not due to # because I only have one, but due to the abnormal amount I talk about her and love her lol). Her name is Buttercup and she is a feisty, cuddly, skinny 9 year old persian. The fluff is deceiving, but I struggle to keep her at 6 lbs! She was overbred, so her tongue sticks at about 85% of the time, and sometimes this one little snaggletooth on the bottom is visible. My fiance, Steven, is completely wrapped around her paw. (I am too, but that's to be expected.) I got her from a shelter in 2007.

4. I might have convinced Steven to try no-poo with me. I say might because he didn't shoot it down, but didn't rush to throw his shampoo away either. I think I'm going to wait until after the wedding because I have very fine hair that is going to be really unhappy with the transition and, let's face it, I've got enough going on right now. But between now and then I want to find a homemade shampoo recipe that I can use while I wean myself off of shampoo and onto baking soda. I just can't go cold turkey because I will be the biggest greaseball you've ever seen. I'm sure the best way to convince everyone around me to NOT no-poo is to be super greasy for a month!

5. I used to think reusing ziploc bags was extreme. I guess I'm extreme. It seems silly, though, to throw away ziploc bags when they've held something that didn't dirty them up at all. Ideally, I will get totally away from ziploc bags, but until I get enough reusable baggies for Christmas or birthdays (cough...hint... cough) I will still use them as needed. But I figure reusing them is better than nothing. I also have to find a better storage system for the freezer. If I put stuff in containers, I end up losing them for months to freezer storage. But if I put stuff in gallon size ziploc bags, I feel guilty. We are registering for 2 sets of glass rubbermaid containers so hopefully that will help.

6. Are quick takes supposed to be this long? Nothing about this feels quick (especially since it took me two sittings to finish.) I think I've missed the point. Better luck next time?

7. I have the option to work from home, which I don't do too often because I get more done at the office. But sometimes, I just have no desire to get dressed and traipse into the office, answer the never ending ringing phone, and have to say hi to everyone who comes by. When I hermit at home, I get way less calls (because my work cell phone is for emergencies, and at least 10% of people respect that lol), can work in my jammies, and I can watch tv while I work. Or you know, finish my Quick Takes. Anyways, my favorite part about working from home is having my cat sleep on the couch beside me with her tongue out further than is normal even for her. It puts me in a good mood. Now... back to work.

Bonus (or not, once you read it): I can't yet figure out how to link back to Conversion Diary's 7 Quick Takes, so just check out :).

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Catholic Guilt

The last post got me thinking about something... Catholic guilt. Most of the times, when you hear someone say it, they are making a joke or criticizing. But I actually feel really fortunate to have what I think is a healthy dose of Catholic guilt.

First though, I was thinking- is it even Catholic guilt? Does Catholic guilt really exist? What differentiates between "normal" guilt and Catholic guilt? Or is it just the perception that Catholics carry around more guilt than other people? I'm not totally sure. As I mentioned before, I wasn't raised in a really strict Catholic household at all, so it's not like I'm the child who went to mass every single weekend, every holy day of obligation, went to Catholic school, and has nightmares about nuns slapping my hand with a ruler. But yet, I do have Catholic guilt. I have it when I think something I shouldn't and the thought is at the expense of someone else (this is new for me, I used to only get it when I said something I shouldn't at the expense of someone else. But then I thought, the most important being of all can hear my thoughts so... I should probably watch those. And you know the thoughts become words, words become actions thing...) Yes, I am very gifted at tangents. Anyways, I also feel it if I miss mass, when it's been entirely too long since my last confession (before last Good Friday I hadn't been in 5 years which I will never let happen again; it was awkward when the priest smiled at me and said "But why so long!?!??!" lol), when I pray too selfishly which is often, when I knowingly do a crappy job at something at work just because it's easy- the list could go on!

I used to be kind of annoyed by CG (come on, typing it out was getting old). I would think, geez, can't I cut myself some slack? Or I would make an excuse for myself or self talk myself into thinking whatever it was causing CG wasn't that bad. But now that I've embraced CG, I've noticed the effect it has on my life. Like, there are times when I say I'm going to go to something (Taize prayer on Monday for example) and then an hour before I consider making up an excuse as to why we shouldn't go (we don't have any night this week to just relax). CG jumps in and says you said you were going, so go. Taize prayer was simply one of the most beautiful things I've experienced. We liked it so much we are already planning to go back next Monday even though it's the same service. It was just amazing. Without CG, I would have been at home, most likely having a snack and staring at Facebook.

I've noticed that I've become a nicer person, and I'm attributing at least some of that to CG. Now some people might tell you that means boring. Because honestly, and I hate to admit this, I used to laugh a LOT at the expense of others. Of course it was behind their backs, but that doesn't really make it better. In fact, I'm sort of afraid that I have a few friendships pretty much based off of that past time. So those friends, when they see me next, may think I'm a prude, or stuffy, or boring. But as harmless as sometimes it felt, I was a more crass, slightly less caring person until CG stepped in . I won't say I don't ever laugh when I see a People of Walmart type situation, but it's the exception rather than the rule. CG has helped me to become more spiritual and to hold myself to a higher standard. So thanks, Catholic Guilt!

(Now if only CG worked for avoiding sweets....)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Hi, my name is Stacy and I'm a blogaholic.

This probably should have been my first post, but it felt too typical starting right off with an introduction. (And besides, I'm only allowing my sister to read my blog right now while I get it started and figure out if I want all my "real life" friends to know about it, or have it more as an online community type thing... I am debating going 'live' on Friday by participating in Conversion Diary's 7 Quick Takes...)

Anyway, my name is Stacy and I'm 26. What I forget or don't tell you about myself here will naturally come out as I continue this blog. This is the more typical information, just because it's easier than trying to think of how to write out all the little facets of my life (that, and you would quit reading quickly if I tried!). I'll address myself more in terms of my blog topics- faith and fertility. I am a cradle Catholic, which means I didn't really begin to appreciate my Catholic faith until about high school. It faded out again in college and then I got back into it when I moved to Raleigh about two and a half years ago. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I'm a cradle Catholic from a family of 5. My parents have been married since 1978, had my brother, Adam, in 1981, my sister, Rachel, in 1983, and myself in 1985. Our family is dysfunctional just like everyone else's, but I so love them. My sister and I were best friends until probably late middle school, then did not get along whatsoever for our teen years (more my fault, admittedly) and in the past few years have really become close again. My brother, God love him, didn't really get along with ANYone in our family. Of course there are some good memories and there were some good moments, but he really had a tough time. We don't talk a lot now (laziness on both our parts, I guess) but get along really well when we see each other at holidays (which we do more now that he has moved back to the town where my parents live).

I grew up in South Carolina for the most part, and North Carolina from ages 5-9. Up until high school, I was just a Sunday participant in church. We probably went 3 out of every 4 Sundays. I went to CCD, but we did not attend holy days of obligation, nor was faith discussed much more than prayers before meal time and maybe the occasional other conversation. In high school, I got involved in the youth group because I was lucky enough to have quite a few Catholic friends at school. I got way more into the church at this point, helping with VBS, going to retreats and conferences, etc. Once I got to college, I started strong, fizzled out, and didn't get back into regularly going to church until my first year of grad school. I tried out two churches and finally settled on one about 6 months before I finished my degree. Again, getting ahead of myself. I got a bachelors in sociology and continued at the University of South Carolina for a master's in social work. I moved to Raleigh after that....somewhat on a whim, but a well planned whim (oxymoron?).

I had applied to jobs all over the south east starting in the January before I graduated, and nothing was coming about besides a few interviews. The September beforehand, I thought it would be cool to live in Raleigh... far enough away but not too far, decent city size, more exciting than Charlotte to me only because it was unknown (I've spent a lot of time in Charlotte), and from what I read online, it seemed to jibe with things I like such as cultural events, outdoor festivals, an art and music scene (which I don't really participate in, but appreciate having it around for the rare times when I do), tons of outdoor things, generally liberally minded, etc. So I visited with two of my closest friends the September before graduation, then with my mom the December before graduation. By spring break, I was interviewing in Raleigh and I figured I would take a chance and sign a lease (in the sweetest downtown accessible, walk up 1930's apartment). I moved at the end of May after graduation, not knowing a soul, and without a job. It was exciting and scary all at the same time.

I gave myself 2 months to continue job searching (and enjoy getting to know the area) before I would take just any job to quit using savings. After 2 months, I started working at a school uniform store. It was an amazing lesson in humility, as I was 24 with a master's degree (in social work, did I say?) and I was working with 16 year olds. Apparently I just needed that lesson because, a week later, I got a call for a job offer. I had interviewed for a particular job in March that would have started in June. They filled that position, but then the same position (there are 2 total) came open again, so they called to see if I really had moved to Raleigh, and hired me.

Two and a half years later, I'm still at that job. I'm enjoying it, and slowly beginning to ponder what's next for me. I'm a corporate guardian for people with mental illness and developmental disabilities. There aren't many dull moments, except for when I'm doing paperwork.

When I moved to Raleigh, I put myself on a dating website. I had had a few boyfriends and a few dates in Columbia over the years, but no real luck. After multiple dead end first dates, I went on a date with a guy named Steven in December of 2009. We became 'official' in January of 2010, became engaged in January of 2011, and will be married in April of 2012.

Our relationship has been an amazing learning experience for both of us, and we have both drastically changed for the better. Most important to this blog is our shift in faith. Steven began going to church with me in the fall/winter of 2010 and really enjoyed the mass. He mentioned a few times in the spring of 2011 the possibility of becoming Catholic. With some encouragement, he joined the inquiry session in September, and is now in the RCIA process to come into the church next April. Well, the details are fuzzy because he should be coming into the church on April 14th at the vigil mass but, um, we'll be at our reception. Of course I have told him that he can change his mind up until the very moment, and that this process is for him to learn and discern. My faith has increased so much because of him (one of those moments where you realize in teaching someone else, you gained even more than they did). We have begun, at his request, to read the daily mass readings which has been so amazing. We decided just today to check out one saint per day, and to read the intro to one book per day in my Catholic youth bible (because learning the time period, author, information regarding the times the book was written has really helped us to understand the daily readings). We have very, very far to go but we are really happy with where we are at.

Now, let me go ahead and address the elephant in the blog. We are cohabitating, which I'm disclosing now because otherwise you'd slowly figure it out at some point and probably be curious. Our original plan was for Steven to move into my apartment after marriage. After my lease was up in my cute first apartment, I moved to the complex he was in, partially for financial reasons and partially to be closer to him. It was, literally, the last super affordable yet not scary complex in Raleigh. I paid $521 and he paid $536 for one bedroom apartments. Our leases were up in October and the original plan was for him to sign a 6 mo. lease and me a year, then have him move in with me in April and we would decide if we could only hand 6 months in that small space, or sign another 12 month lease to save up for a house.

It was a great plan until it all came crashing down. I got my renewal letter that my rent would be $676 upon signing a new lease. His, for a 6 month lease, would have been slightly higher than that. There was just no financial way we could do that. We looked at multiple other apartments and brainstormed some ideas, but we couldn't come up with a solution. We the blessing of both of our (fairly traditional) parents, we signed a lease together at our current apartment (where we pay about $392 each- yay for wedding savings). I had a 3 day cry fest when we made the decision because, as non traditional as I am on some things, I really didn't want to live together before marriage. In certain ways, I still regret it now and have some 'what ifs' about ways we could have made it work. However, what's done is done and of course I am loving being with him all the time.  But this example just goes to show that, as I stated in the last blog, I am perfect by no means. I have my struggles just like everyone else. Can I tell you how ready I am for Good Friday confession and our marriage the following week? And can I also tell you how readings like today's Gospel reading slap me in the face right now? But again, whether or not I would do it all over again, we did it and it is done.

So, that was a HUGE caveat in my "about me". I had planned to go into my family more, and address my experience with PCOS up until this point, but I think I'm going to save this for another entry as my fingers are tired and I'm sure your eyes are tired!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Just how crunchy are you?

Let's just say that I will always wish to be crunchier than I actually am. This is partially due to laziness and partially due to the fact that I am finding SO many new ways to be crunchy that I'm not sure I can ever do them all! But, I will say that every time I add a new crunchy element to my life, I become happier and more fulfilled. This is relatively new to me, so I would not win any awards... but I'm not out to get praise or attention for it. I just want to know that I'm always improving and looking for new ways to better myself and the world around me. Before I get into my lists, let me post a disclaimer that you should remember every time you check out my blog. I may write things that will have you screaming "TMI!!!!" But I can do that, because it's my blog. And also, because there isn't a whole lot in life that I consider TMI. If it's something that most people do and especially if most people do often, then I have no problem talking about it on my blog (I'm sure you can come up with some examples without me spelling it out!).

Here are some of the things I have recently incorporated into my life:
Recycling everything that can be recycled. Unfortunately for the local recycle center, I'm afraid I often recycle things that may  not be able to be recycled. But hey, I'm learning.
Using natural cleaning products. I'm not throwing away the cleaning products that cause people to grow extra toes, because I'm frugal. I will use them until they are gone, but we are replacing things with natural products as we run out.
Eating as little processed/packaged food as I am able. I have not had a freezer dinner since I moved on October 1st. Please understand that is huge for a girl who used to eat 4-5 of them each week for lunch at work. I am buying fresh, in season produce (from the farmer's market, which has been SO fun to go to each week) and baking/cooking from scratch, which is totally new for me. So far it's been a ton of fun. I'll expand on it in a later post.
Moving closer to the city center/using less gas... ok, I'll admit. I fell in love with this apartment and it was a total bonus that almost every place we frequent is 5 or less miles away, including my job. But I have seen that I fill up on gas less often since everything is so close. My job is a gas guzzler, but I'll get into that in a different post. (I hope my gas friendly Civic buys me brownie points with the earth.)
Reuse any grocery bags I do get for carrying lunch to work (except I also have enough lunch boxes to sink a ship) or to scoop my cat's litter box. But mostly, using my reusable bags when I shop.
Slowly replacing bulbs with CFL's (isn't that what they're called?) and making sure to keep heat down in the winter, A/C up in the summer, and lights off whenever possible.
There may be a few more, but this is all I can come up with right now.

Here are some things I want to eventually incorporate into my life:
Breastfeeding... for reasons I'll explain in yet another later post, I won't be able to stay home with my children, at least not the first one and probably not the second one either. So there is slightly more packaging, water, etc. used when you have to pump, but still better, I think, than formula feeding. (Note: the views expressed on my blog belong solely to me and I will not judge you for not thinking the same way... much... kidding)
Using either cloth diapers or natural disposable diapers. The jury is still out on if cloth diapers are better for the environment (google if you wish), but I know they certainly have to be better for your baby's sensitive skin. Many daycares don't allow cloth diapering, so we have decided we will use the natural, biodegradable diapers if we need to. I've heard those are harder to find than one thinks (most that are natural will not biodegrade), but not impossible.
I want to transition to either using all natural tampons or one of the 'cup' products (mooncup, diva cup, etc.).
While we are on bathroom topics, switching my cat to an all natural litter. The two I've tried so far literally made me nauseous when I got near it, but I feel guilty for using clay litter. So the search will continue.
Today I read about the concept of "Family Cloth" for the bathroom... it intrigued me and scared me all at the same time. No worries, the family does not all share one cloth. But essentially your family uses reusable cloth for bathroom needs. People who swear by it claim that if you are eating healthy, there is little clean up and no smell. Hmmm.... I will need a loooong time to mull this over. Maybe I will switch to that earth friendlier TP in the mean time that my mom keeps sending me coupons for.
Go even more local/nonprocessed/nonpackaged than I am now. There is always room for improvement.
Learn to sew, so I can repurpose things. This appeals to my frugal side, too.
Again, I'm sure I can come up with more, but this is about 10 minutes worth of brain storming.

Next up on the blog..... Some topics to look for in upcoming posts:

ME! My job, my life, my family, my cat who is way cuter than any other cat, etc. (expect that to be a long one!)
My Catholic faith
My diagnosis of PCOS
Cooking and baking from scratch- where I get my inspiration from, what I've learned from it, how the man in my life is taking it, etc!