Friday, March 30, 2012

She's a winner!

If you remember, which you probably don't since I had forgotten until today, when I started my guest post series "A Day in the Life", I said that whoever had the most comments on their guest post would win a giveaway book. Well, Cari won! Cari, I will be contacting you for your address so I can get A Catholic Woman's Book of Days to you. It's a great book of daily reflections/meditations that I really enjoyed. I just have to find it first... and if it looks like it's been chewed on, it was the cat, I swear. Congratulations on winning this harshly gently loved book!

By the way... this is my 100th post! Boy, I've certainly done a lot of posting since I started this blog in November!

7 Quick Takes- Lenten Updates

--- 1 ---

I'm a huge fan of holy week, and so excited for everything coming up. Tonight we're going to stations of the cross, which we haven't made it to at all this Lenten season. It doesn't feel like Lent is complete without going once. Speaking of which, if you have the Laudate app on your phone, they have an awesome Stations of the Cross section on there. We use it mostly for the daily readings and reflection, but the SOTC and rosary parts are really cool!
--- 2 ---

The prayer part of the Lenten pillars for us was to go to adoration twice. Steven had never been, and I haven't been since probably high school. I'm not sure why, because I have always had very emotional, positive experiences at adoration. We went on a Friday and it was really neat to see so many other people there in the hour we were there, on a Friday night. I think there were at least 6 other people just during that hour. The time flew by and I really loved it. I don't know why, but I was worried I would get bored or be over it 30 minutes in. Thankfully that didn't happen, and now I'm craving to go back. Luckily it's perpetual adoration, so I can go any time of day or night! (Though I don't see myself as a 3am adorer! I really admire whoever signs up for the middle of the night time slots.)

--- 3 ---

The two fish we ate during Lenten Fridays were salmon and tilapia. As most of you predicted, salmon was a no-go and tilapia was awesome. There is kind of a dark line in tilapia and that part was a bit fishy to me, but the rest of it was actually really good! We did lemon pepper with actual lemon and I liked it a lot. The salmon we got was so salty it made me sort of sick. I ate very little of it and won't be buying it again. I'm glad we chose that for one of our fasting things, because I never would have otherwise learned that I like tilapia! I spent about $10 on tilapia and it fed us for three Fridays during Lent!

--- 4 ---

My dad is coming to see Steven enter full communion with the church during the Easter vigil and I'm really excited about it. I'm hoping Steven doesn't have to work Easter morning so we can open baskets and make resurrection rolls like we did last year. We've officially declared it tradition. Edited to add: If you read my Wednesday night rant on the facebook Cathsorority group, you'll know that we are no longer sure when he will come into the church because the team forgot that we told them TWICE that we won't be there on Divine Mercy Sunday and that they told us TWICE he could come in at the Easter Vigil, and now they don't know if they will let him do that. Grrrrr.

--- 5 ---

For almsgiving this year, we did the rice bowl which was something we always did when we were little. It's another tradition we'll definitely keep. The only problem? I almost never use cash, so I'm not sure I donated more than about 50 cents to it this year. I think next year I need to do the thing where whatever food item you give up, you put the money you save each week not buying it into the rice bowl. Steven uses cash more than I do, so hopefully between the two of us we can feed a few people.

--- 6 ---

I had all the intentions of going to confession on Wednesday night at the last penance service and completely forgot. Well there is one Thursday but it's for senior citizens, and even though I'm in my pj's by 5:15 pm and in bed at 10, I don't quite think I qualify. So that means I will be in the crazy long line on Good Friday like last year, which I swore I wouldn't do again. Sigh. Procrastination at its finest. (I did manage to remember to get my hair trimmed and get a free sub...)

--- 7 ---
This isn't Lent related, but I opted to upgrade to Blogger's new look before I was forced and I'm already regretting it. Me no likey.
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

All Things Wedding

I've tried to keep too much wedding talk from taking over my blog, since I know that people don't want to sit and read wedding stuff 24/7 (well, unless you're going to be a bride soon yourself.... then it's more fun!). It has slipped in more and more in my quick takes, because I can write about it there without it taking over. Well, like an elderly person who realizes death is imminent and looks back on their life with longing and wishes for more time, I'm the bride who is realizing that in two weeks and 3 days, this will all be over and I'm already getting the post-wedding blues! Dramatic? Well, yes, but if I wasn't, Steven couldn't call me FussyPants McGee so I have to live up to the name. Yes, I know that married life is going to be amazing, and we'll have so much exciting things happening for us in the future, and yes, I'm 100% completely ready to marry my best friend but.... I would be fibbing if I said that I won't miss this time in my life a little. As stressful as wedding planning can be, it's also so much fun to plan one of the most important days of our lives, but then I get really sad that all that planning is for one day that we can never have again! I remember my sister saying that her wedding day went at such a good pace and she was able to savor, enjoy, and really be in every moment. I hope it's that way for me, too, and not over in the blink of an eye.

All this is to say that I decided to blog about wedding stuff a little, for two reasons. One, writing is an outlet for me so I think it'll help me really enjoy and savor these last few weeks if I write about it and two, I want to be able to look back on these posts with fondness, instead of wishing I had blogged more about it! But since I can write for pages and pages with no end in sight, I decided to do it in list form. So during the next 17 days (not that anyone's counting), you can look forward to some lists done mostly in Top 5 fashion. If you get wedding-ed out, I will forgive you for not reading and I promise shortly after the honeymoon my blog will go back to its' original purpose! :)

So first up is....

Top 5 wedding planning memories:

Obviously, the proposal! I’ve written about it before, but it’s what started all of this off and was such a special day for us. I really enjoyed being ‘unplugged’ that weekend and savoring every moment of that special time together. We had so much fun calling each other fiancĂ© and dreaming of what our wedding might be like.
Minutes after he proposed outside of Biltmore. This lion will forever be "our lion". Since we are crazy cat people, it's fitting.

Finding our photographer! We went to a wedding show in April, and I went mostly to get ideas and because I didn’t really know where to start. I really didn’t expect to find our photographers that day! They are a husband and wife team, and they are so amazing. They do great work and have such great personalities. The wife is cute, bubbly, and immediately makes you feel like an old friend and the husband is focused and makes you really confident in how he will handle the day. We just knew when we met them that we wanted to use them, so we booked them at the show. Or should I say, Steven  and my Dad booked them because I began bawling from happiness and stood in the corner snotty nosed and tear stained with my mom. 
After signing with our photographer, and taking a break before the David's Bridal fashion show began. Apparently dads don't typically come to bridal shows, because they gave mom a "mother of the bride" sticker but dad got "bride's little helper"! Lol! 

My dad helping me and my mom put together invitations: I already knew my mom is amazing and would be a great helper with invitations, but my dad surprised me. He was so meticulous and was taking a long time getting his job done because he wanted to make sure everything lined up perfectly (he was sealing the envelopes and putting the sticker seal on the back). He sat through all 150 invitations without complaint  (except for when we teased him for being slow). It was so sweet!
You look at that picture and TRY to tell me it's not one of the sweetest things ever!

This has happened a few times and was a it different each time, but is still one of my favorite memories… Sitting in church on Sunday and becoming overwhelmed with emotion when I imagine our wedding taking place. Yeah, sorry Jesus, I was probably doing this at inappropriate times, but I would be sitting in the pew and imagine myself walking down the aisle, or us sitting up on the altar and literally have to choke back tears. I’ll actually miss that, but maybe after the wedding I’ll be choking back tears remembering our special day when we are there on Sundays.

The decision making process with Steven: Honestly, I thought he was going to be the fairly typical absent groom. “You do whatever you want, Dear” and he shows up for the wedding. He has been the total opposite. It took some getting used to on my part, because I thought I would just pick it all, and suddenly had to give on certain things so the wedding would feel like it was his, too (imagine that!). He also frequently asks what he can do to help when he sees I’m overwhelmed, because we all know wedding planning comes more naturally for the woman. I give him honey do wedding lists, and he accomplishes them with no (ok, very little) complaint. It’s been so comforting to see how we work together to make big decisions and to get things done under pressure. I can’t wait to make even bigger decisions with him in the future. I mean, if we can agree on cake and icing flavors, we are set for life, right? 

How could I forget finding the dress? Do I have bridal dementia!?!?! I only took my mom with me because I knew she would be supportive of whatever I picked, and I wanted to keep it a surprise to most everyone else (only my mom, Steven's mom, and my sister have seen the dress!). I tried on 5 and knew #5 was the one because I started crying when I saw myself in it. It's classic and beautiful but with a hint of modern in it. Can't wait to show you pictures! My mom was so excited for me and was very patient with my need to stay in the dress for about 30 minutes and just stare at my reflection! She also helped me pick out the veil and accessories, which I was so glad about because I was sort of clueless! 
Smiling in the dressing room... that's a good sign! 

All you brides to be and wives, do you have a favorite wedding planning memory?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Guest Post Alert!

Today I was featured over at Karianna's, guest posting about the 4th beatitude. I really enjoyed writing that post for her and the whole series she is running has provided a lot of food for thought. Go check out my post and her blog! If you are new here from Karianna's blog, welcome! I hope you'll snoop around a little and get to know me. Leave me a comment so I can check you out as well! I blog about faith, fertility, PCOS, health, and frugality, with a side of wedding planning (2 weeks and 6 days, people!).

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Day in the life of Katie

Welcome to the very last installment of A Day in the Life. This series is meant to give us a glimpse into each other's lives... the parts we might not normally show or might not fit the 'theme' of our blogs. It's also meant to help us get to know each other even more, to inspire us, and to let us know that life isn't quite as glamorous as blogs make them out to be :).  If you're late to the game, I kicked it off followed by Betsy's SundayJessica's MondayCari's TuesdayKate's Wednesday, Jen's Thursday, and Mandi's Friday. The series is finishing out today with Katie from NFP and Me. She is awesome for many reasons, but one of the top on my list is the crazy cool NFP buttons she has made. You must check them out at her site! So here is a Saturday in the life of Katie! 

Ya’ll caught me on a particularly special Saturday because normally I just study all. day. long. Yet this past Saturday was part of my very short but nevertheless wonderful Spring Break. There hasn’t been any studying in sight since a week and a half prior. So how did I spend my last free Saturday until boards are over? Relaxing on a beach like some of my classmates? Laying around the house doing anything that isn’t productive? Binge drinking to celebrate my 0% Irish heritage? Not quite.
Instead I spent the day doing manual labor in my yard. I know, we get pretty crazy. Our yard was a mess, truly embarrassing. So we were bound and determined to get it into a presentable shape. We weeded, we dug, we tilled, we mulched, we did everything.  At the end of the day we ended up with 3 new trees, a garden twice the size and last year, and new tulips in our front yard. We went from this:

To this:

It may not look like much but trust me it took many hours of work, an 18 pack of Bud Light (between two days and both my husband and I), and a considerable amount of sweat and cussing. Now if our grass would just green up we would be set. We ended up doing the back yard, garden, and some trees as well.  We did it all with only 3 trips to Lowe’s, minimal blisters, and 2 small fights. We called it a win and decided to settle in to watch some basketball.
Unfortunately before we could start watching basketball, I had to fix my sniffling and sneezing husband. The whole time we were doing  yard work I was surrounded by an incessant “sniff sniff” only occasionally broken up by a very loud “Achoo.”  He was convinced he had a cold while I sided with allergies.  I drugged gave him with some Benadryl and called it good. He’s not dead yet so it seemed to do the trick. I guess I can be a doctor after all. ;-)
Back to basketball, ya’ll probably don’t know this about me (because how would you?) but I am a huge college basketball fan. My number one team is Duke and my step child of a team is Kansas. I know that seems silly because I’m from Kansas but it’s true. Well if you’ve followed the tournament at all then you know how my team turned out. Maybe you remember seeing “Missouri Loves Company” scrolling through your newsfeed. I went from such a high-high with Missouri losing and then an unbelievable low with Duke’s loss. I’m not ashamed to admit I cried and then consumed an unhealthy amount of Monkey Bread.  You do what you have to do right? So with a sour taste in my mouth from the night before I watched the Saturday games and cheered for every upset because I’m a sore loser like that.  We settled into bed at an embarrassingly early time so we could watch basketball and drift off to sleep.
Other than that it was a pretty uneventful day. I kept wishing something big would happen because I wanted to be able to share it with you all but unfortunately I had a regular ol’ boring day.

About the Author: Katie blogs at NFP and Me about her life as a pro-life Catholic medical student (quite the enigma), being a wife to Steven and dog-mom to Jack, and you guessed it: the joys and pains of practicing Natural Family Planning.

Friday, March 23, 2012

7 Quick Takes

--- 1 ---

House hunting continues to be fun but frustrating. I really hope we find something before our lease is up in October. There are plenty of houses in areas we don't want, but not many houses in areas we do want. We made our first offer and got rejected this week. It was a bank owned home in a neighborhood we otherwise wouldn't be able to afford. We offered asking price and they flat out rejected us; they didn't counter offer or tell us to make our best offer or anything. We are both disappointed, but not as crushed as I thought we might be because we have said, and will continue to say, that if we are supposed to be in a certain house, we will be. If not, it wasn't the one for us.
--- 2 ---

Tonight we are going on a date to see October Baby. We didn't get to see it when they screened it for free, so we are really excited about seeing it on opening weekend. Sort of on the same note, have you ever read Gianna? It's a similar premise (someone who lives through their abortion) but it's a true story. I read it a few years back and it was really good. No, that's not an affiliate link (note to self: learn how to use Amazon affiliate links).

--- 3 ---

Besides the third scrutiny for Steven, we have no plans this weekend. YAY! Seriously.... YAYAYAYAY!!!! I'm sure we will fill it with wedding things that need to be done, but it's nice to know we don't really have anywhere we have to be.

--- 4 ---

Last week I put labels on 150 favor boxes. They came with the boxes; we just had to print them. We went with "Love is sweet". After I spent about 45 minutes putting them on, I went to shower. When I came back, about half of them were already peeling off at the edges or corners. Sigh. So now I bought 150 stickers at Michael's, and have peeled off the 150 labels so I can put those on.

--- 5 ---

I've heard so much about Downton Abbey through Catholic blogs, the Cathsorority group on facebook, and my NFP instructor mentioned it also. I resist anything that I will feel 'addicted' to (I hate loving a show enough that I feel like I NEED to see it when it comes on), but finally gave in Sunday evening when I was working on shower thank yous. I'm watching it on Netflix which is nice, so I can watch it at my leisure. It's pretty good but I've only watched a few episodes so far.  I finished the first season and am now feeling jittery since I've realized there is no season 2 available for Netflix yet. My question is: what is it about DA that so many Catholic women like it? I haven't heard about it in any other circles (out of, you know, my two or so circles). True fact: Until episode 4, I thought it was called DowntoWn Abbey.

--- 6 ---

I was decorating table numbers for the reception and, in true Stacy style, began backwards (just like I read a magazine). 13-24 are looking very pretty, if I may say so myself. Michael's has the perfect confetti in the shape of flowers and I got purple, green, and ivory. Anyway, I opened the 1-12 pack and found a pretty major flaw.... two 6's and no 11. I can just imagine the wait staff saying "The veggie plate goes to table 6.... no the second table 6!" So back to Michael's for a correct pack.

--- 7 ---

As I finish my quick takes tonight (Thurs.), Steven is out with friends for his bachelor party. I'm excited to hear what the plans were because I know it doesn't involve anything shady so now my mind is making up all these scenarios.... a movie? mini golf? bowling? an eating fest? What could it be? I've decided to throw budget caution to the wind and pick up Chickfila for dinner because why should the boys have all the fun?

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Monday, March 19, 2012

My First Taste of Catholic Fiction

As the wedding gets closer, I was wanting another book to review, but decided I needed something that was an 'easy read'. I was so excited to check out the list of options and see Catholic Fiction! First of all, fiction is really easy for me to get into. Where I can enjoy nonfiction, I usually have to read it bit by bit to really absorb it. But with fiction- good fiction- I can get completely lost in it. 

Let me tell you, Until Lily by Sherry Boas absolutely did not disappoint. It wasn't an easy read in terms of the thought provoking subject matter, but very much an easy read in terms of me getting happily lost in the pages. In fact, it was better than I expected it to be. The premise of the story is a woman, Bev, who ends up raising her sister's three children, including Lily who has Down Syndrome. She had no interest in raising these children, especially Lily. We learn about what life was like as she learned to mother these children, how having a special needs child affected her life and her faith, and how her own illness helped her to understand Lily's life. We see Bev facing her own mortality and searching for someone to care for Lily, even the father of Lily, who Bev swore to her sister she would never contact. The book is written from Bev's point of view, and I almost found myself in tears at the end of the book... there is a twist that I would not dare reveal, but it really surprised and touched me.

As someone who works with people with developmental disabilities, the author caught the joys and frustrations so well. She writes realistically, and does not sugarcoat the feelings a parent, especially someone who never wanted to be a parent!, might have when raising a child with special needs. She digs into real life issues such as the role of the caregiver for a special needs child, and what happens when that caregiver becomes the one needing care.

 I had two reactions to trying out Catholic fiction. My first was that I was excited because I don't think I've ever read anything like that before. My second was that I was anticipating it to feel like the author tried too hard to incorporate Catholicism into the book. I was very wrong about that assumption. It was really refreshing to read something that felt like my life. I loved reading snippets here and there about going to mass or confession, or someone having a Mary statue. The unique ways we celebrate our faith are just not found in most books, and it was really comforting to find that part of myself in this fiction novel.

So do you really want to know how good this novel was? Between house hunting, wedding appointments, and having bronchitis this week (a busy week!), I received the book on Tuesday and finished it Saturday morning at 7am... after staying up until 1am the night before to read! The best part? It's part one of a trilogy, so it's not over! 

*This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Until Lily . They are also a great source for a baptism gifts or first communion gifts. I was not paid for this review, but was given the book at no charge. However, the opinions in this review are my own.

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Day in the Life of Mandi

Here we are at another week of the A Day in the Life series! The series is meant to give us a glimpse into each others' lives... the parts we might not normally show or might not fit the 'theme' of our blogs. It's also meant to help us get to know each other even more, to inspire us, and to let us know that life isn't quite as glamorous as blogs make them out to be :). Today we have a Friday in the life of Mandi, who is celebrating a birthday today! I've met Mandi and her family in person and just love them! So welcome to a day in the life of Mandi!

Today is my birthday, so it isn’t a usual Friday in my home, although I suspect that it will be much more ordinary than last Friday was.  Last Thursday, I flew to Atlanta with my three month old daughter, Lucia, to be with my best friend, C., while she had a minor surgical procedure.  I went back and forth regarding whether I should write my “Day in the Life” about last Friday which was a very abnormal day in my life or the previous one which was much more average.  Ultimately, I decided to write about our unusual Friday in Atlanta for two reasons.  First, life with a baby is ever-changing and unpredictable, so even if I had written about my Friday at home two weeks ago, it would only vaguely resemble how I currently spend my days.  Second, by describing what was out of the ordinary last week, I am more aware of what exactly I’ve come to rely on as my “ordinary”. 
I woke up at 6:30 am to Lucia making loud coos and shrieks.  I got out of the bed and knelt down over where Lulu had been sleeping on the floor in order to make sure she was really awake.  I have terrible eyesight and hadn’t yet put on my glasses or contacts so I had to put my face very close to hers to see that her eyes were indeed open.  She smiled up at me, my sweet morning girl, and I talked to her quietly as I unwrapped her from her swaddler and changed her diaper.  Then it was time to nurse.
Lulu, first thing in the morning
Normally, the morning is my favorite time of day with Lucia, but this morning I was really just wanting to fall back asleep.  I slept terribly the night before.  Lulu started sleeping through the night at six weeks, so I had gotten used to nights of uninterrupted sleep.  Since this was the first night Lucia spent in a new place since she started sleeping in her crib, I wasn’t at all certain that she would sleep through the night.  Therefore, I was hyper alert all night, waking up every time she made a noise (and she is quite the noisy sleeper!).  Thankfully she didn’t wake until the morning, although 6:30 is about an hour earlier than she had been waking up the previous few weeks.
After Lulu was done nursing, we went out into the living room to play.  I laid her on the couch, tickled her, and held up some of her toys for her to grab.  Traveling with an infant makes me appreciate the conveniences of baby gear in our home, like her play mat where I can attach toys above her and have her play independently while I take a shower or do things around the house.  At the same time, it also reminds me how little I actually need for her - sure, all our baby items make caring for Lucia a bit easier but I can get by with only the contents of a suitcase. 
At about 8:15, C. comes out of her room and we start to get ready for the day.  Her friend is coming to pick us up and drive us to her procedure at 9:00, so we didn’t have much time to spare.  Lucia seems to be ok by herself for a while, so I jump in the shower while C. makes us breakfast.  I am a cereal girl all the way, not only do I love how quick and easy it is, I also love the taste; when I was in college, cereal was often my lunch or dinner as well as my breakfast.  My best friend, on the other hand, hates cold cereal, so our breakfast for the day was oatmeal with strawberries.  We stopped by the grocery store the night before to pick up some food for the next few days and strawberries were on sale 3 cartons for $5 and we couldn’t resist.  This was just the first of many meals over the next few days in which we would find creative ways to use the strawberries. 
After I got out of the shower, had breakfast and made sure Lu’s diaper bag was adequately packed, we only had moments to spare before we met our ride in front of the apartment building.  I strapped Lucia’s car seat into her car (I will never take a car seat base for granted again after this trip!) and we were off.  When we arrived at the hospital, I settled down with Lulu as my friend filled out the necessary paperwork and then was called back for her procedure.  I said a prayer that all would go well with the surgery and then the waiting began. 
The waiting room was large and very full, with people constantly coming and going throughout the several hours we were waiting.  I brought a book to read in case Lucia slept, but she was awake the entire time and I was kept busy attending to her.   When I am in public with Lucia, I am always very cautious to make sure that she doesn’t get upset or cry.  At least part of this concern is because I want the people around me to see the joys of parenthood.  I feel like it is more usual in a public setting to see children misbehaving and parents losing their temper than to see the beauty of family which is more often seen in the privacy of the home.  I know that I should be more forgiving of myself, especially since babies do cry and sometimes there is nothing one can do about it, but I don’t want to contribute to the current societal mindset that children are burdens.  While we waited, I walked Lucia around, played with her toys (which usually consists of them “kissing” her - that girl loves kisses!), and nursed her.
A few minutes after 11:00, C. came out and was ready to leave.  She looked fine and felt normal, although the doctor had told her to expect about 48 hours of pain and discomfort after the anesthesia wore off.  When we arrived back at the apartment, C.’s roommate told us he was planning to order Chinese food, so we decided to do so as well.  C. took me out to dinner the night before after we came in from the airport and now we were going to order food out!  David and I rarely go out to eat, maybe a few times a month, so this was quite a treat.  And to add to that, my best friend insisted on paying for all my food while I was there since I refused to take money from her for half my plane ticket. 
After lunch, we watched “Raising Arizona” (my first time seeing it) as C. waited for the man she was seeing to come over.  We almost got through the entire movie before he arrived.  Apparently he had gotten lost, which I soon learned was fairly typical of him.  This may sound strange, but I was very nervous to meet him.  Since we have lived in different states (and for a while countries) since becoming friends, this was the first time I would meet someone my best friend was dating.  What if I didn’t like him?  Would I be able to tell her?  Should I tell her?  Thankfully, I didn’t have to worry about this, since he turned out to be exactly like she had described him: intellectual, a little nerdy, and very kind.   He seemed to genuinely enjoy Lucia (always a good sign).  Unfortunately, he was unable to stay long because his sister and brother-in-law were coming in that night and he needed to clean his apartment.
After he left, we spent the rest of the afternoon finishing the movie, having hours and hours of girl talk (you just never run out of things to talk about with your best friend!), and playing with Lulu.  Throughout this all, C. still continued to be feel great, as if she had never even had surgery.  Having had such a large lunch, we waited to make dinner until after Lucia fell asleep at 8:30.  While making dinner (a soup with vegetables, rice and lentils), C. received a call from a friend from high school that had recently moved to Atlanta.  She knew that I would be in town and was hoping to come over to spend time with us.  She joined us for dinner. 
I was never quite friends with this young woman although we had several classes together in high school.  Yet I really enjoyed catching up with her.  If we ever ended up in the same place again, I could see us becoming friends.  Speaking with her and my best friend over dinner, it was easy to see the path my life might have taken had I not met my husband.  They are highly educated young professionals, my best friend in graduate school seeking her Ph.D., the other young woman working in her field after receiving her master’s degree.  And although I had spent my life yearning for marriage and children, I could have seen myself happy in their place. I know those two young women want to someday get married and have families, but in the meantime, they are involved in their communities, have meaningful friendships, and are taking advantage of single life by traveling.
As I crawled into bed at 11 pm, exhausted after waking up so early (and knowing that I would have to wake up early again with my sweet girl), I felt incredibly blessed that I was able to be there for my best friend (even though it seemed as if I wasn’t needed after all), that I spent the day with such wonderful people, and that I was able to do it all with my baby girl beside me.  I drifted off to sleep as I prayed the rosary, taking solace not only in the familiar prayers but also the awareness that sometime that night my husband had done the same.
Mandi is a wife to her grad student husband, David, and mother to their three month old blessing, Lucia Rose.  While learning to keep house and care for a baby she’s found herself becoming increasingly “crunchy” - cloth diapering, breastfeeding, baby wearing, homemade cleaner making.  When not taking care of her family in physical ways, she’s doing all she can to get them to heaven.  Read about her efforts at Catholic Newlywed.

7 Quick Takes

--- 1 ---

I have a new favorite blog/website/product. Have you seen Happy Saints ? They are cute as pie. Last Saturday night, I told Steven to google Vatican hats (I'll get to that next). Well, nothing close to what I was looking for came up in the search, but Steven couldn't resist clicking on "Vatican Trucker Hats" which led us to which led us to Happy Saints products. I'm pretty sure they are meant for children, but this girl was sold. Awesome quotes, cute pictures, and cool products! Steven loved it too and ordered a St. Michael keychain for himself and an All Saints keychain for me. We immediately went and liked their facebook pages. I hope their ebook is still around in a few years when I can buy it without feeling ridiculous!
This is the one I got because I couldn't decide on just one. This way I get them all! If they'd had my patron saint, Felicity, I would have gotten it, but they didn't. I have already placed a request on their facebook page ;). 

Even though all this happened before I knew they had an affiliate code, I am totally not above free stuff. In fact, who IS above free stuff? If you check them out through this link and decide to order something, I would get a 5% commission (which I could then use to order the 4,000 other things we want from their site). I think the link is only for the e-book and maybe a few other products. If you want the rest, you'll have to search for Happy Saints on Zazzle. Kinda confusing, but worth the adorable-ness.
Check out Happy Saints!
--- 2 ---

Why was I googling Vatican hats? Friday night I went to church because they had the Opening in the Cause of Canonization for Father Thomas Price. I have been reading Philip's blog for a while now, and I know he is praying for the intercession of Father Price to heal his terminal brain tumor. It was exciting seeing him in real life after reading his blog for a while now, which might be a bit silly since he just lives in Wake Forest which is about 30 minutes away. But still, it was cool. Even cooler was the actual process of the opening of the cause. There was a tribunal there complete with Vatican officials. I googled the hats to figure out what their exact titles were, but my search didn't yield any information (besides the trucker hats, which they were not wearing). There was lots of official signing of documents, some chanting, and an awesome homily by the bishop.

The bishop signing the documents. Philip is on the left in the picture. The chancellor is in the middle and I'm not totally sure who's on the right.

--- 3 ---
This week we met with the reception venue, dj, and florist for our final appointments with them. Plus we did some more house hunting, got our marriage license, did a big shopping trip for wedding stuff at Michael's, AND I've had bronchitis since Tuesday! It makes me tired just typing it! I am absolutely looking forward to the wedding and reception, but lately I have been dreaming of our honeymoon. I'm ready to relax and have fun with Steven for 6 straight days!

--- 4 ---
Speaking of, we are going to Curacao and when I tell people, they usually look at me very confused. So here is some geographical info for you. Look right off the coast of Venezuala. For future reference, it is cheaper than any other all inclusive resorts we found, besides those in Mexico. I didn't want to go to Mexico because I've been (to Queretaro) and wanted a new place to add to my travel list.

--- 5 ---
With the possibility of us buying a house in the near future, I am all over internet money making sites. I mostly use Swagbucks and in about two months I have earned enough points to cash in for $20 worth of Amazon cards. Steven has as well. Click here to start using Swagbucks.  Everyone I've talked to has their preferred way of earning. It can be frustrating at first, but let me know if you want pointers on what I find is the best way to earn. We are hoping to continue using it and always use them at the end of the year for Christmas gifts, since money is always tight around the holidays. I also use Superpoints, but only for the free point (or few points) they send in my email every day. It won't add up to much, but I found that I do better focusing on just one site at a time. The Superpoints might get us a couple $5 Amazon cards by the end of the year, and something is better than nothing. I also made $60 off of advertising my blog, which was exciting.

--- 6 ---

My future mother in law threw us a wedding shower last Sunday. It was at her church, and it was a lot of fun. It was overwhelming because there were almost as many people there as will be at our wedding! 17 thank you cards down, 61 to go! His mom, their family, and her church friends put together such a cute shower that was decked out in purple and green. It's amazing how loved you can feel by complete strangers! It was fun when we came home, unloaded, and re-opened because we were so overwhelmed in our 90 minute gift opening time at the shower that we didn't know half of what we had gotten! We also really enjoyed the Lord's feast day... i.e. we ate ourselves crazy, including like 6 cake squares.

--- 7 ---
Butternut squash soup is grody. I bought some to soothe my throat, and because I'm not eating much while I don't feel well, so I wanted to make sure I'm still getting my veggies. I'm making myself eat it a little at a time but.... ew. I was really hoping they would have a sweet potato bisque type soup but no such luck.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Our Song

So I am a day late and a dollar short, but I saw the "Our Song with NFP & Me" link up and couldn't resist with our wedding right around the corner! This day needs a pick me up since it started with us going to the register of deeds TWICE (*someone* who shall remain nameless forgot our social security cards) and then me becoming really sick and not able to do almost anything all day! Without further ado:

What's your song? 
Our song is You and Me by Dave Matthews Band.
I can't get tired of the video!

Did you always have a song or did you have to find one?
Steven might remember this better than I do (but he's at work). I know he suggested it one day and youtubed it because I had never heard it. I loved it and it immediately became 'our song', but I don't remember any more details than that.

Why did you pick this song? 

We loved the message of team work that this song has... together we can do anything. I also melted when I heard the part about teaching our kids to fly. 

What does it mean to you? 

It describes how we want our relationship to be. We can get through anything, but only if we work as a team and put the other person first.

How was the meaning changed since you first chose it? 

I think the meaning has only changed by intensifying as we have gone through a lot of challenges together. We've had to make a conscious effort to work together and to change how we approached arguments, adversity, and stress for the health of our relationship. So I would say it's even more meaningful now than it was when we first picked it. 

Won't you share a picture of you two dancing? (Doesn't have to be a wedding picture!) 

That would require that a picture of us dancing existed!  There might be one from my sister's wedding (literally the only time we have ever danced together) but I don't know how to get it. You know what this means, right? We will look absolutey ridiculous doing anything other than slow dancing at our wedding. And yes, I do panic a bit about it lol! 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Guest Post Alert!

Yesterday I was featured as a guest poster over at Imperfect Kate for an awesome series she started, Modesty Mondays. Go check out my post, her blog, and let her know if you are interested in contributing!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Crunchy Tips!

I've been saving up some crunchy tips, since I haven't posted much about it recently. Incidentally, most of these are also frugal tips. Frugal AND earth friendly? Win-win in my book!

1. Do you pack a lunch for work? We do every day because it's such a huge money savings. About once every other month we might buy lunch for work, but we much rather pack our lunch for work and save eating out for when we are together. If you are like us and pack lunch, there can be a LOT of waste from doing this. In the beginning, we were using ziploc bags and, between us, were going through about 4 a day. Not only is that wasteful, but it also gets expensive. When we moved, we found two sandwich sized containers in Steven's tupperware stash that he didn't know existed (men... <3). We now use those for our sandwiches, and wash them once a week (the only thing that goes in them is sandwiches). We also have other various sized containers for any side or snack items we might take. We still have a box of ziploc for 'just in case', but we rarely have to use them.

2. Until recently, we were very lazy with our dishwasher and used the tabs for washing. I started thinking about it and began feeling very silly. It has to take just as much time to get the bag, open it, get the tab out, and put it in the dishwasher as it does to get the bottle out and squirt it in the dishwasher. So I was being 'lazy', but not really even saving any time! Plus, the bottle of liquid is so much more cost efficient and you can buy better for the environment type detergents. In the tabs, you don't have that option (at least not where we live).

3. This seems like an obvious one but... recycling. Do you recycle everything that you can? The more I learned about recycling, the more I recycled. Now, we generally have more recycling in a week than we do trash (sometimes the same, depending on the week). We also have downsized to a small, under the sink trash can because we make less trash. When I lived alone, I had a full size one and now that we live together, we have a small one! The containers my cat's food comes in can be recycled infinitely. Before I learned that, I wasn't totally sure what they were made out of, so I just tossed them. You can imagine how silly I felt! We recycle paper towel tubes, toilet paper tubes. any recyclable plastic, magazines, newspaper, cardboard, glass, tin, and paperboard. Paper board used to make up a TON of our recycling, but not as much now that we eat less processed. Sometimes I look at how much recycling we have and get really sad about how many years I was throwing all that stuff into the landfill! It takes extra effort if your apartment or neighborhood doesn't have recycling right there, but it is do-able to take your recycling once a week or once every other week to your local recycling place, which is what I had to do when I first moved to Raleigh because my apartment at the time didn't offer it. Luckily, our current apartment has a recycling center in our parking lot.

4. Turn the 'heated dry' option off on your dishwasher. I resisted this one for a while, but my mom said something about it and I figured I needed to give it a try. Not only are you saving energy and water, but you are also saving money. Win-win. And let's be honest. Who really jumps up the second the dishwasher is done to empty it? Better yet... who even knows when the dishwasher is done? Turning the heated dry off means I have a legit excuse for waiting a while to empty it. You know, so it can air dry. The dishes on the bottom feel the exact same as when I use the heated dry option, and the top ones are still wet, but it hasn't been a big deal.

5. Want an easy way to know if something is generally healthy or not? And by healthy, I'm referring more to it being whole, not processed or processed very little, and having real ingredients. Turn said item over and look at the ingredients. If there are more than 5, and certainly more then 10, you should probably just set it down. The long version is to actually read the ingredients list and begin to get familiar with all the strange sounding things on there. But the easy version is to see if it's a short or long list. Keep the short and ditch the long. Tip: Triscuits have 5 or less ingredients. Win.

6. When you bake or cook something, make it in double or triple batches for the freezer. You use less energy because you are only pre-heating once and dirtying less cooking utensils. Plus, you are more likely to keep up that lifestyle of eating less processed foods when you only have to cook or bake one third of the time! Our freezer is embarrassingly low for the first time in months. We are out of muffins and biscuits, and really low on pizza pockets. That's what wedding planning will do to a girl, I guess, but of course now is when we need the quick yet healthy food the most!

7. Re-use your grocery bags in any way you can. I really don't like how many grocery bags are thrown away, and I'm glad to see stores implementing recycling programs right at the store. But that requires remembering to take them, which we never remember. We use re-usable grocery bags but do sometimes forget them, so we have a stash of plast grocery bags. We use ours sometimes for small trash bags and I also use them to scoop out the litter box. I've used them as lunchboxes before, too, when our lunch box collection was smaller.

8. Use natural light whenever you can. Our apartment gets really good sunlight in the living room in the afternoon, so often times the light will be off. The kitchen and dining room get really good light in the morning, so I can make breakfast without having to turn the light on. At work, I have two gigantic windows in my office, so I seriously have turned the lights on in there 5 times in 2 and a half years, and that was when the weather was so bad that it was basically dark in my office. Some of my coworkers tease me for not using the light- but why would I when the sunshine does the job for me?

9. Re-wear your clothes. Now I know this gives some people the skeevies. And some people really can't rewear their clothes (ie my fiance in the dead of summer). But most of the year, I can get away with wearing my clothes a few times- especially my work clothes because I'm not in them a really long time, nor am I sweating in them. I also wear my jeans quite a few times before washing them because jeans are so durable. And I don't stink. Honest. It saves quite a bit of water and electricity (and therefore $!), and your clothes last longer because they don't fade/pill/fall apart as quickly as they do when they are washed often.

10. While we are on the topic of reusing things, reuse your drinking glass. We only drink water when we are at home, so there is never a need to get a different glass because our beverage of choice doesn't change. We generally will use a glass (we each have our own, we aren't that crunchy!), for 2-3 days before we put it in the dishwasher. It's our own germs; they won't kill us.

I hope you enjoyed these tips. I'm going to try to post them more often, and post more creative ones. Have any crunchy tips to add to the list?

Friday, March 9, 2012

7 Quick Takes

--- 1 ---

You know why my guest post series is crazy? Because every week that I format one to post, I think about how I am one week closer to the wedding. And when it finishes, there will only be a few weeks standing between me and the day I marry my best friend.

--- 2 ---

You know that thing I said about putting off house searching until after the wedding? Well the day I posted that, I happened to ride through a neighborhood I was passing by after a work appointment and found a house that would make me a happy girl. We got pre-approved for a loan that night. We went and saw that house but it was not for us. Now we are seeing three more this morning. Eeek!

--- 3 ---

Yes, we are biting off a lot, but we decided to keep looking at houses as long as it stays fun. If it becomes stressful, we'll put it off until we get back from the honeymoon. Right now, we are having a lot of fun, even with our itsy bitsy budget, finding houses we can afford and picturing the possibility of living there. Lowes Promo Code will help with fixer-uppers!

--- 4 ---

We have found that we have to decide between nice, small houses with a nice sized yard in an older but established neighborhood with hardwoods and purdy kitchens or bigger house that we would never grow out of but slightly underwhelming finishes in a new neighborhood that hasn't stood the test of time and looks like a used car lot when everyone is home, not to mention the dinky, outdated kitchens and wall to wall carpet. I'm leaning towards option A which means we have to live right outside of Raleigh instead of in Raleigh. We are looking at Garner, which I like because it's really close to Raleigh (attached, if you will) but also has enough to sustain itself, including two Targets and two Chickfilas within a few miles of wherever we buy. Yeah, I'm a simpleton. And call me crazy, but I actually like the idea of a small house for a growing family. If we need to buy something a bit larger one day, we can, but if we are happy, we'll stay.

--- 5 ---

Back to non house stuff. I have warned you before that I don't bat an eye at TMI, right? So I started my period Monday which is a good thing because it means my cycle was "only" 45 days. That's shorter than the last one, and way shorter than they have been historically, so I'm happy. You know why I'm not happy? That would put my next one coming right around the wedding day. I don't even care about the honeymoon, honestly. I am just trying to imagine my bridesmaids holding my wedding dress while I empty the Diva Cup that I just started using this month (and love). (Fear not bridesmaids, I would never make you do that. Unless you are my maid of honor and my sister, who has advocated my Diva Cup use, in which case I may require your assistance. Muahahahahaha.) Hopefully it will come a few days after, or even the week before- but regardless I will just be happy that I have a cycle and deal with whatever happens!

--- 6 ---

We are starting to pay vendors off and it feels good. Well, it might not feel good to spend $725 with one click (my most recent payment for a vendor), but it feels good getting it done because I don't want to worry about payments right before the wedding. The only person we aren't paying ahead of time is our videographer just because he is from out of town and we haven't met him. We paid him a 50% deposit and will pay him the rest at the church. Anyway, the main point is that I will be really happy after next week when almost everyone will be paid off!

--- 7 ---
We are going to celebrate our one month til the wedding by going to get our marriage license. YAY! It already feels very real, but I have a feeling that will make it feel even more real! As much as I don't want to the wedding day to be over, I'm most certainly ready for it to be here.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Day in the Life of Jen

Here we are at another week of the A Day in the Life series! The series is meant to give us a glimpse into each others' lives... the parts we might not normally show or might not fit the 'theme' of our blogs. It's also meant to help us get to know each other even more, to inspire us, and to let us know that life isn't quite as glamorous as blogs make them out to be :). This week we have Jen from Meditatio  with her life on a Thursday.  Leave it to me to pull two totally random things out of the post amongst all the amazingness of this supermom, but Jen is a girl after my own heart because 1) her cat is named multiple times in the first paragrahph 2) she has a LOT of cats, of which I am jealous and 3) she puts jammies on as soon as she gets home, which is a rule I follow strictly. That makes her a rockstar in my book. Without further ado... a Thursday in the life of Jen! 

I wake up at 7:10 to the sound of Daniel pounding on the windows in the bedroom. I fell asleep in the recliner again last night listening to podcasts so I didn't make it into the bedroom. My house panther Edda meows at me to signal her intense displeasure at him being set loose in the living room. Jon takes Daniel to get his diaper changed and brings him to me in the living room, taking my laptop and glasses to put up in a safe place. It isn't five minutes before Daniel decides to unzip his sleeper and take his diaper off so I rouse myself and take him back to the nursery to change into his clothes for the day which are harder for him to take off. I snuggle him on my lap and we watch some cartoons together on Qubo (how I miss PBS!) before he decides to do other things. Edda takes that opportunity to curl back up on my lap and I have her curled up with me until Daniel decides he wants his Cheerios and Jon puts him back in my lap with his snack cup, making Edda vacate. Edda stews from the couch as Daniel occupies my lap while he eats. He goes off to trash other parts of the living room and Edda jumps back on me, settling on my chest. I remind her that I'm allergic to her and she looks at me as to ask why this is her problem. While Jon plays with Daniel and Edda purrs, I attempt to block out the TV and Jon trying to talk to me and pray about my day. Jon dresses and heads for the church a few minutes later.
Freya and Edda

At 8:30, I go into the kitchen and open my laptop after praying that our new Internet peeps would get our modem back to us today. (I've been without Internet since 3:30 on the 29th.) I look in the refrigerator for some kind of leftovers (I hate normal breakfast food) and see nothing. I do see that we have milk so I grab a packet of instant breakfast out of the cupboard and make myself that, hoping that it will last me long enough to drive to Elk Grove to get my meds. I speed-dial Walgreens and try to get through to the pharmacy but they're having phone problems. Great. I take what meds I have and drink my instant breakfast, calling Walgreens back when I'm done. Apparently, they have an overflow of calls and the person who answers at the register tells me to call back. While I wait, I realize that Jon has my paper copy of Our Daily Bread (the devotional I use) and I can't get to the online version because I don't have Internet. I climb back over the baby gate into the living room and grab my NOOK off of a shelf so I can read a Psalm or two. I note that the Bible on there (the Women's Devotional Bible) has daily devotions. Sweet! The devotion is on Joshua 4:1-7 and talks about memorial stones in our lives, tying it to the passage. Given my history with March 1st, it's not something I want to hear but oh well. (Entries for that day are here, here, and here.) I read the devotion and Joshua 4 and then pray over it before trying to call Walgreens back.

Jen's handful of pills

I finally get through to Walgreens, get my scripts ordered, and go toss on clothes so Daniel and I can run up there. While I'm getting dressed, I call River City Pharmacy (the home health care place that handles Daniel's Pediasure) and leave a message with the nutrition person to get a delivery of it. After getting dressed, I pull my hair back, get glasses on (no contacts for me!), and get shoes and socks on Daniel so we can head out the door. We hit up the library to drop off a book before heading up highway 99 to Elk Grove. While there, we hit up Walgreens for my meds (thank God for insurance that is actually functioning well!) and Trader Joe's to get ingredients for the pasta salad I promised to make for the funeral at the church tomorrow. (The family asked us to supply some salads and bread so I offered to make a pasta salad.) I grab a Coke at Carl's Jr and head back to my town, stopping at the grocery store for a couple things. When I walk in the door, there's a message from tech support at my new internet provider letting me know that the AT&T modem/router would not work for their service and that I needed to purchase a new modem. Biting back several curse words, I call the church and talk to our financial secretary (who is also our office administrator) and get permission for the new IP to bill the church credit card for the modem. He gives me permission so I call them back and stick Daniel back in the car to head over to their office. Jon accompanies me and chases Daniel while I talked to the tech people. We finally get home and off-load the groceries and everything else.

Daniel being a toga boy

Back home, I change back into jammies and stick Daniel into the pack n'play while I clean things up and try to make the living room look like a 2 year old doesn't regularly trash it. When I finished, I stuck him in the highchair and let him eat cheese shreds and graham crackers while I fought with AT&T regarding internet things. J, Daniel's occupational therapist comes at 1 while I'm on the phone with AT&T and works with him for an hour. Upon hooking everything up, I get an email message from my mother-in-law telling me that she has volunteered me to write some devotions on the Book of Acts for a devotional that one of her friends is putting out. I call her to get clarification on what I'm supposed to do and catch the last 5 minutes of Daniel's session. After J leaves, I change him and get some Pediasure for him which reminds me that I haven't had anything solid today. Rats. The fast food angel and devil appear on my shoulder and the devil tells me to go get some Carl's Jr. The angel reminds me that I was already out today and the devil answers back that I gave the sandwich I had gotten for lunch to a homeless person and Carl's Jr has a drive-thru so I don't have to change out of my pajama bottoms. The devil wins that one and I grab Daniel to head back out. Once home again, I put Winnie the Pooh on the DVD player and ask him nicely to consider going down for a nap. I sit back down at my laptop and bring up the Our Daily Bread website to read the day's devotion. It's on Joshua 9 and exhorts me to be careful of who I trust and to seek Godly counsel. I do the rest of my Interet things while I listen to Winnie the Pooh and Daniel taking apart furniture in the living room.
Daniel working with his occupational therapist

Jon gets home at 4:15 and realizes that he has not deposited his paycheck. I offer to do it if he'll stay home with Daniel (who is still not asleep at this point) and exchange my pajama bottoms for jeans. I drive to the bank, take care of the deposit (splitting between two accounts), and come home where I put on my jammies again and retreat to the bedroom to listen to some music. (It's St. David's Day so Unapologetically Episcopalian is featuring Welsh music.) This serves as a chance to actually do some praying for people in my life who are sick as well as about my Bible reading today. After praying, I transfer my posting drafts over to my server and schedule my Quick Takes to post at 10 p.m. PST. I then work on a Lenten piece for Friday until "The Big Bang Theory" comes on. Edda and her sister Freya join me. (I do actually have two more cats [my boys Finian and Cullen] but they haven't been around today.) It's a re-run (and a crappy one at that) so I switch over to "Judge Judy". During a commercial break, I start Daniel's bath and Jon bathes him. "Winter Wipeout" comes on at 8 and is one of the highlights of my week. During it, Daniel has a tantrum when we re-dress him and winds himself up so much he throws up. I fetch clean jammies for him from the wash house while Jon bathes him again. Additionally, I wet-jet the floor and clean the carpet. I also start putting my pasta salad together for tomorrow by boiling water, cooking/draining the pasta, pouring a jar of bruchetta sauce over it as well as a container of feta, and then tossing it. I reserve some for dinner tonight and stick the rest in the refrigerator so that the flavors can set overnight.

Jen's pajama bottoms, which are made of win

At 9:00, Jon takes Daniel to the bedroom for storytime, prayers, and his goodnight song. This is when I am able to get a lot of writing done. After showering and having a little of the pasta salad for dinner, I work on my Lenten piece for Friday some more and get it scheduled to post at 8:00 a.m. PST. At 10:00, I start refreshing Conversiondiary.Com to see if Jen has her Quick Takes up yet. I end up being #2. (Emily beat me by a split second.) I surf some more while watching She-Ra and turn the TV off at 11. I'm getting sleepy so I put a podcast on and before midnight, I'm drifting off to sleep to the sound of Capt. Jeff of Airline Pilot Guy discussing aviation.

Jen is a Lutheran pastor's wife living in northern California with her husband Jon, son Daniel, and four very spoiled cats. She is not quite sure when she lost her mind, but blogging at ::Meditatio:: seems to help. When she isn't being a mom or herding cats, she reads voraciously and is active with the Promise Walk and preeclampsia awareness. She also loves crocheting and cooking but can't seem to find the time (or counter space) to do either right now.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

More Than a Piece of Paper

I always cringe when I hear people say, "marriage is just a piece of paper". And I guess in some way, it  is. But if you are a person of faith*, it's so much more than a piece of paper. Marriage is a sacrament. A sacrament is in outward sign of an inward grace (my favorite explanation) and an encounter with Christ (our RCIA priest loves that explanation). Saying it is just a piece of paper cheapens it. My priest said one recent weekend that he thinks the church needs to get out of bed with the government as far as marriage goes. I made up the 'get out of bed' thing, but he said something to that effect. I actually agree and it gave me a lot to think about. But I digress.

Back to marriage being sacramental... I think part of the problem, and part of the contribution to the divorce rate, is that people do tend to view marriage as 'a piece of paper'. I think so much of what marriage is, is missed when it is viewed as a technicality. If it's just a technicality, what's the incentive to make it work when the rest of the world shows you that you can get divorced and try to find happiness elsewhere?You can cheat to find happiness, or divorce and date to find happiness, or decide to be single to find happiness. And while I'm not suggesting that those paths are easy, it seems like they are the most selfish paths because they focus on just one person and not on the couple. Staying in the relationship, sticking it out through all the crap you might have to wade through to get to a better place, and giving of yourself for the sake of another person is selfless and, I would imagine, one of the hardest things to do. But I've seen marriages come out on the other side of that. It's unfortunate that our society screams so loudly about doing doing what makes you happy (and not what might work for the marriage) that people can easily miss the message of how rewarding it can be to be selfless in a relationship or marriage to work for joint happiness.

 I know a lot of people have beef with the Catholic church's stance on divorce, but I find it beautiful and comforting. If Steven and I ever were to divorce, we could not remarry. To me, it seems like a Catholic couple (who is completely faithful to church teachings of course) might be at the absolute end of their rope, and not able to see any reason why they should stay together, and realize that an incentive is that it is either together and figure it out, or call it quits and be alone for forever.

Now, I'm not referring at all to a couple where one partner is a victim of abuse. This also doesn't take into an account a couple whose marriage wasn't valid in the first place, because obviously they could seek an annulment. But those couples are far and few between. I'm just referring to your 'average' couple. Hopefully there are other shreds of hope a couple is holding onto and can make it work, but I think the thoughts of knowing I will be alone forever if I don't do my very best to make this work serves as a great reminder of just how big of a deal marriage is. I'm not looking at our belief of divorce as a scare tactic at all, but as a belief that shows just how devoted to marriage a person should be. I'm guessing one would be more tempted to save their marriage when they can't dust themselves off after 6 months or a year and jump back into the dating pool, searching for someone else to be with.

I'm getting more and more excited to enter the sacrament of marriage with Steven. We both have great examples in my parents, who have been married 34 years this coming May, and his parents, who have been married 38 years (on our wedding day!). Knowing that this is a lifelong commitment, we have done a LOT of work on our relationship to make sure we have the armor we need for what I can only imagine will be the most rewarding and most difficult commitment we will ever make. I absolutely love and recommend the book 1001 Questions to Ask Before You Get Married. This seriously brought up many of the best conversations we'd ever had, and probably wouldn't have thought to have had otherwise (until we were fighting about it at some future point, possibly). It helped us to understand each other's views on topics that will be very relevant in the future and helped us work through things that we didn't agree on. It's not a faith based book, and would make a great gift to any dating or engaged couple. We worked through it over a span of about 6-8 months and loved it so much that we've decided to do marital workbook exercises throughout our future marriage. I told him pretty early on that I don't believe in divorce and, luckily... thankfully!, he felt very strongly about it as well. Now that he'll be coming into the church, we share the exact same beliefs on it, which I think is comforting to both of us. On a side note, now that I have learned that the sacrament of marriage happens when we exchange vows, I hope I can wait until the end to kiss my handsome husband!

*Obviously you can be a person not of faith and feel very similarly about marriage, but my blog is faith based so of course I'm approaching it from that perspective as I have no clue what it would be like to not be religious at all but view marriage in the same way ;).

Friday, March 2, 2012

7 Quick Takes

--- 1 ---

I learned a valuable lesson about hot glue this week when decorating the candles for our reception centerpieces. Oh, did I tell you they passed the burn test? I burned one for almost 8 hours and the embellishment didn't end up in flames, so that's good. But back to my valuable lesson. When you are hot gluing something, and you scald your fingers with the glue, don't peel it off!!!! If you do, you will continue to re-burn the tips of your fingers. Just leave it on there and let it build up in layers. Soon, you can hold your fingers onto the tip of the glue gun and not be phased (but don't try that at home).

--- 2 ---

So my day of coordinator sent us a packet to get started on before our meeting on Tuesday. It is 60 pages long. That was one of 5 attachments. Isn't she supposed to make this process LESS stressful? I am so glad we signed when we did. She is now charging double what we paid, and for less services now. I guess she got popular over the last year. Or got smart. We knew we were getting a steal when we signed with her. For us, she stores and sets everything up for free. For new people, they pay double and those services are extra on top of that. Anyways, for those of you who saw my facebook freak out upon opening said attachment, thank you for the kind words. I may or may not have cried a little (it was actually due to confusion about what  was or was not in our contract now that her policies have changed) but I'm better.. at least until Tuesday.
--- 3 ---

We looked at two houses this week. The first one was the perfect house in a very not perfect neighborhood. The second one was the perfect neighborhood but a very not perfect house. We decided to wait until after the wedding. I really don't need another thing on my plate- especially one that has good and bad stress! We will dive in head first after the wedding to see if it's even a reality. So far, we seem to be drawn to older homes (bigger rooms but cheaper prices), but the loan we want only covers homes built 1978 and newer. Grrr! Letting it go for now...

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There is some really strange drama going on at work. I can't really talk about it here since I opt to keep my blog public. But let's just say that when there are about 10 people in the office (a couple more employees but they work from home or completely in the community) it makes for really weird office tension. And it's one of those things where everyone knows what's going on but no one is allowed to talk about it. I worked from home one day this week and it was blissful. Depending on how the next few weeks go, I might be doing more of that!

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NFP/PCOS update: I think I'm on day 40 something of this cycle. My Creighton doc wants me to be able to identify my peak day better by the next time I see him (the Monday before the wedding... ahhhh!) but I'm not sure how much of an opportunity I will have for that! I identified my last one really well when it actually happened, but I guess he wants me to have identified a few before he orders labs that are dependent on me pinpointing my peak day. I also have a post coming up on possibly going on Metformin (which he suggested will probably be his next move when I see him again). The reason it's taken so long is because I wrote it, thought about it, processed it with Steven, and then changed my mind. So now I have to rewrite it lol.

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Even though we try to eat mostly non-processed or barely processed, we are still human. There are those nights that we want something quick, delicious, and aren't in the mood for pizza pockets (my go to, pre-homemade, freezer item). So what do I grab on those nights? Feast your eyes on this:
Trader Joe's Handsome Cut Potato Fries- All I can say is OH EM GEEZERS. Seriously delicious. Back in the day we ate Ore-Ida fast food fries. While the nutrition facts weren't so bad, it had a laundry list of ingredients. These fries have 4 ingredients, which makes my heart happy.
Tyson 100% All Natural Chicken Nuggets- these are one of my guiltiest pleasures. They only have three ingredients!!!... in the chicken part. The "breading" has more than triple that lol. We only buy three items from the 'regular' grocery store, and this is one of them. We wait for them to go on sale, and usually Steven will get a coupon for them, but I'll admit that I start to get the shakes when they aren't in our freezer for more than a few weeks.
Trader Joe's All Natural Barbecue Sauce- YUM! No really.... YUM!!! I don't eat barbecue stuff. I don't eat stuff with the slightest bit of spice. This is slightly spicy barbecue sauce. It is FANTASTIC. We also use it on grilled chicken.
(And we pair the meal with an apple. It's perfect.)

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This weekend is a busy one. We have Steven's Rite of Sending and Rite of Election, one in Raleigh Sunday morning and the other in Chapel Hill Sunday afternoon. He doesn't have to do as much as the Catechumens, but we do have to stand up at the front for the Rite of Sending. I think they just speak to him at the Rite of Election. I really love seeing this process because I don't think I ever would have seen these two rites if not for him going through RCIA. He is going to come into the church and get married within a week of each other. Talk about a lot of life changes in a short amount of time! :) Three sacraments in seven days... BOOYAH. We also have fun Saturday plans including a wedding errand, free pretzel afternoon at the mall, mass (because sponsors have to leave with candidates now after the homily on Sundays), a couponed dinner out at one of my fave places, Cafe Carolina, and seeing Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close at the $2 theater. EXCITED for a fun weekend!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!