Friday, November 23, 2012

Monumental Day

Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, I have a VERY important announcement to make. Something happened today that hasn't happened in a really long time. I witnessed something I have never witnessed before. It was astounding. Astonishing. Amazing. Surreal.

Today, this 23rd day of November in the year 2012, my dear husband, who has been a vegetarian for the past 16 years VOLUNTARILY ATE MEAT!!! (I say voluntarily because there have been a few accidents along the way, not including the cream of chicken that I use in his casseroles). but I digress. Today at his family's thanksgiving celebration, my dear husband decided that he would try the delicious wild caught turkey that we were feasting upon. And he not only nibbled, he ate a whole piece!!!!!

Does this mean I can start cooking more meat in this house? Who will catch some more wild stuff that Andrew believes is healthier?? Do I have hunter friends?

Best. Thanksgiving. Ever.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

At the foot of the cross

There's something unexplainable about the connection of a mom to her children. It comes from somewhere deep within and bonds you to them in a way you can't be bonded to any other. It is this bond that causes us to hurt when they hurt, struggle when they struggle, rejoice when they rejoice, and triumph when they triumph.

On Monday morning I arrived home from work and asked Andrew how our sick little boys were doing. They had both started on bad colds the previous day and Will had not slept well at all. Andrew said "okay... Just bad colds" and rushed off to work in his normal pattern. But my first look and listen to baby Will told me something different. He sat on the couch and sleepily stared at me with droopy eyes. His breaths were coming far faster than usual and he seemed to be struggling with each exhale. My mommy instinct said that even though Vince was going in that afternoon for a check up, I needed to get Will in ASAP. So I called the pediatrician and off we went.

The waiting room was agony. Vince happily watched the fish in the tank, but William wouldn't leave my lap. He wasn't talking or pointing at the fish. He just sat there limp, struggling to breathe and clutching me. Patient after patient was called back for their appointment and I just prayed we would be next.

Finally we got to see the nurse practitioner. The good news was that his oxygen levels were fine, but she said that his airways were just inflamed and he needed a breathing treatment. We were sent home with a nebulizer and an oral steroid prescription, and told to come back the next morning for a follow up.

After only two treatments my little man was doing so much better. He was like a different kid the next morning at his follow up. Laughing, playing, singing. Even smiling at the nurses! And I was a different momma.

It's so hard when they are sick and there's not much you can do. A mom feels their agony but can't take it away. During this small blip in our daily life I was transported back to the NICU and all those memories of my tiny baby hooked up to monitors and tubes lit up my memory.

It made me think of what agony Mary must have gone through watching Jesus die on the cross. I turned to her many times that day to help me. The pain she must have felt for him is unimaginable.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

To friend or not to friend...

Do you all have those people on Facebook that you kind of want to friend request and kind of don't?  Or sometimes it's the other way around... someone requests you and you know them, but you don't KNOW them, so you're just not sure whether to accept the request?

Well, I just happened to find my "first kiss" on Facebook.  What's a girl to do?  Honestly, I will in all likelihood NOT friend this man.  We dated for (at most) 3 weeks when we were 17.  So really... be friends on Facebook? I think not.  I do wonder if he even remembers me.  I'm quite certain I was NOT his first kiss.

I also found my best friend from 2nd grade on Facebook.  (Ironically she's friends with my first kiss.)  I've seen her parents much more than her since she moved away from our small town 25 years ago.  I really feel no pull to "friend" her on facebook either, but I think it's neat that I could.

I actually enjoy purging Facebook friends MUCH MORE than I enjoy "friending" people.  It's usually about springtime, when I look at my number of FB friends and go "Really, Kristi?!"  You don't see most of these people EVER and your life wouldn't be seriously changed if you weren't aware of their Facebook dealings, so LET THE PURGE BEGIN!  It's freeing!  And then I usually have a day or two of guilt thinking that maybe, for some reason bigger than me, I was SUPPOSED to be their Facebook friend.  But I usually get over that pretty quickly.

What about you?  Do you go through Facebook friend purges or do you just keep on addin??

Friday, November 9, 2012

A journey to FOUR

Mr. Vince turned 4 this week. Here's a little blog without words dedicated to my first sweet little boy.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Mandating Free Contraception

Up to this point, I've been fairly "mums the word" on anything political during NABLOPOMO. What with the elections and all the fights on Facebook, it just wasn't something I was interested in stirring up. But sometimes whilst walking around my house, I find myself blogging out loud (or in my head) about something I'm super passionate about, and that's been happening this morning so here goes nothing.

The Health and Human Services Mandate put into effect by President Obama and Kathleen Sebelius as a part of Obamacare requires that insurance companies now provide contraception at no charge.

Many Catholic are up in arms about this because we believe that contraception is morally wrong, an intrinsic evil, against God's plan, etc. etc. But that is NOT what I'm blogging about today.

Here's a BIG reason why I am against the HHS mandate. First of all, even the term "HEALTHcare" tends to imply that the program should care for a person's health. So whatever I receive from my healthcare/insurance plan should in effect help me to be healthier, right? But contraception doesn't make anyone healthy. In fact, it removes the ability of a woman's body to naturally function. The pill, IUD's, Depo Provera, etc. interfere with the body's natural ability to regulate hormones and instead use artificial hormones to render a woman infertile. But not only does it disrupt her cycle, it is now being leached enough into our water supply that it's affecting the fertility of men, and I would assume, therefore, women who are not taking contraception. And that makes me worried about how it's affecting my children who are drinking the same water.

I understand that some of you will argue that birth control is also prescribed to "regulate a woman's cycle," or to "help with endometriosis," or to "lessen a young girl's acne problems." But as far as I know, the FDA hasn't actually APPROVED these drugs for that use.

And I know contraception is widely used in our society. I understand that people enjoy the fact that they can have sex whenever they want and be 98% sure they're not making a baby. I understand that some believe more contraception will equal less need for abortions. I get all that stuff. However, I fail to see how providing free contraception can be a form of "HEALTH" care when it is medication designed to INHIBIT a healthy process. We might as well mandate that people can go to liquor store and get booze for free as well, because you know that's one way to treat depression, right? Or maybe we should mandate that our insurance plans pay for us to eat out once a week because it's too stressful to have to cook at home.

Contraception is a pill of convenience. Not a pill for health. It should NOT be covered by healthcare plans.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Mormon Underwear?

A few of my friends and family members have spoken of something called "magic underwear" that is supposedly worn by Governor Mitt Romney and all adult Mormons. "Magic underwear?" I questioned. "That cannot be the correct term." And so, to keep my mind off the stress of this election, I decided to do some research.

It turns out that adult Mormons DO wear special underwear that has been given to them at their "temple endowment." This undergarment has a top and bottom and reaches to just above the knee for both men and women It must be worn at all times "other than swimming, using the restroom, or being intimate with one's spouse." And it basically reminds them of their promise to God and that they are in the world but not of the world. More info at

Even before I'd done my quick google search, I was pretty certain I didn't approve of the term "magic underwear." That would be like someone calling the Blessed Sacrament a "magic wafer," and that is incredibly disrespectful.

But while I do not approve of the term "magic underwear," I whole-heartedly approve of wearing it!!! What a great way to preserve modesty in a society that is convinced that the more skin you show=the more beautiful you are. I think everyone should get a pair of Mormon underwear and learn to dress like ladies and gentlemen again. YEAY for Mormon undergarments!

Monday, November 5, 2012

A kid in school

Having a child in school is like a whole new ball game when it comes to parenting. When Mia started PreK last year, all of my childhood memories came flooding back, and I wondered would Mia fall in with the right friends? Who would be the bullies in her class? Are the boys going to tease her? Are the popular girls going to tease her? Will she be popular? (this momma hopes not, by the way). Who will influence her? I actually started to understand why so many parents choose to home school. It's not something I would want to do, but that pull to protect my sweet girl from the big bad world is pretty strong.

And then on the flip side of worrying about Mia's school issues, a whole flood of my own insecurities crept up. Why did all the moms seem to know eachother already? Was I not involved enough at church and school? Is my shyness with new people making these moms think I'm not personable? What do I need to do to be a better school parent? Yeesh!! It kind of felt like teenage angst all over again.

However, I'm happy to report now that she is a quarter of the way through kindergarten, many of my worries for her (and for me) have been greatly lessened. Her teacher told us at conferences that she's very quiet at school and always serious (probably gets that from her dad.). But she's doing great behavior and grade wise so that's good. Mia's biggest worry each day is if any of her classmates get marked down for bad behavior. It makes her so sad especially when it's one of her good friends. She also pushes herself really hard to get excellent marks. She doesn't like getting wrong answers and she gets really frustrated if she does (gets that from her momma).

As for my issues, I've broken a bit out of my shell and actually become friends with some really lovely fellow moms at the school. And they continue to push me to come to different things and get to know others, so even though I'm uncomfortable, they're really good for me. Plus many of them have older kids in school so when I have a silly new-to-school parent question, they are BIG helps.

All in all its actually becoming kind of enjoyable to send Ms. Mia off to school everyday and hear all about it when she gets home. It's just taken us a while to get to that point. I still miss her like crazy when she's gone, but there are moments when it's nice only having two to grocery shop with or haul along for errands. I wonder how I'm going to be next year when my little Vincey starts pre-K??

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Halloween revisited

I think this might be the last year that the kids let me theme their costumes. I needed a great costume for three for my last hurrah, so who's a more famous threesome than the Holy Family?! Here they are all decked out before starting their truck or treating adventure!

Friday, November 2, 2012


I was an accomplishing-stuff machine today. I went to work for 2 hours, baked cupcakes, cleaned my kitchen, took the kids to the zoo, went to the beauty shop, visited GGMa, cut Andrew and the boys' hair, bathed the children, cleaned the house, went shopping, baked a quiche, frosted cupcakes, cleaned the kitchen two more times, dusted the living room, and prepared my gift for Lisa's bridal shower. Oh yeah... And I just blogged!!!

Happy of the day: all that accomplished
Crappy of the day: While flinging Williams shirt behind me when getting him ready for bath, I accidentally aimed for the toilet which still had pee in it from another little boy. Poor William's shirt!!

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Dude! How can it possibly be November already?! This year has flown by quicker than ever. But guess what November means??? November is National Blog Posting Month, and my goal is to write or post something daily.

So gear up folks... It's going to be quite a challenge.

And with my first post, I leave you with Kristi's thought of the day:

I reached a milestone about 3 months ago. I have officially been NOT pregnant longer than ever before between pregnancies. I can't decide whether to rejoice or tear up. My mood about it tends to change by the attitude of my kiddos on any given day... Oh and also by how big they suddenly seem to look.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Making Memories of Us

Maybe it's because I just spent a weekend with him and all my best friends near the Church where we got married.  Maybe it's because I'm inspired by Melissa and Jeny... but I'm feeling extra in love with and reminiscent about my husband and my marriage.

Eight and a half years ago a stranger checked into a retreat that I was helping to lead and he caught my eye right away.  Tall, thin, vaguely nerdy looking... exactly my type.  And he was coming to a Catholic Singles Retreat.  Definite bonus.  Here is a snippit of the beginning of our story that I started writing back when we first met.  This little story occurred a few weeks after the retreat we met on but before we went on our first date.  It was our first chance to really talk beyond the silly flirting we had been doing.
Monday night rolled around and left the Daisy Girls with a night off from everything.  It had become a pseudo tradition at the Daisy House to just have Monday nights free.  It was the only night during the week when none of the three of us had anything pre-planned.  Mondays become a time of rest from our ministry and a time to just chill as roommates.  This particular Monday seemed a bit quiet.  I secretly wondered what Andrew did on Mondays. I knew he didn’t work. “Was he bored? Was he lonely?  I wish he would call,” I thought.

Tuesday was Mardis Gras.  The Daisy house had sent out emails inviting everyone over for weekly rosary followed by fattening desserts.  Kimmy was sleeping because she had a midnight shift and Lisa had to do something at school.  So I was stuck at the house by myself to watch American idol and make brownies for later.  Andrew called the house at about 6:15 and asked what was going on.  I told him he was welcome to come over early if he wanted.  No one but me was home, but he could help me make brownies. Nerves overcame me as I said this.

He got to the house at about 6:45.  He came prepared with a sack full of goodies and a big white apron for helping to cook the brownies.  I told him I was only making a boxed brownie mix, but it was totally cool if he wanted to help. Before he arrived I had been slightly worried that we wouldn’t have anything to talk about being alone by ourselves for the first time.  That didn’t happen at all.  I barely remember watching Idol we got so caught up in talking.  I learned more about his vegetarianism, and I learned that he watched movies on Monday nights.

He even mentioned that he had driven by the Daisy House on Monday night considering if he should invite us over to watch a movie.  I so wish he would have.  I would have gone in a second I think.  I was delighted to hear that he had thought about us when we weren’t around.  That was very exciting to me.

Not long after that evening, Andrew called me to see if I wanted to go to a Shocker game with him.  I had no idea if it was a date or a friend thing, but the night before the date I made sure to clarify.  From the game night (and dinner) forward, we were basically inseparable.  One month after we met, we started dating.  Four months after we started dating, we were engaged.  Ten months after that we were married.  And now, eight years and three kids later, I'm even more in love with him than I was back then.  

So this post is dedicated to you, Andrew Christopher.  Thanks for walking into my life back then and being the best part of it ever since.  

May 7, 2006 - Our first full day as a married couple.

Monday, October 1, 2012

St. Therese, pray for us.

Since she's one of my favorite saints, it just didn't seem right to let her feast day go by without a blog post... But Mondays generally have me swamped with housework... So I refer you to a post I wrote 2 years ago about the roses she sent to me. A bouquet of roses!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Eternal Optimism

Somewhere back in Junior High or High School my best friend dubbed me an "eternal optimist." She said, "You always expect the absolute best out of everything, and that's why you're so disappointed when things don't turn out as they should."

There have been numerous times throughout my life that I have realized how true her statement was. And just tonight, I found it yet again.

For at least 18 months I had been thinking how fun it would be to plan a date night for Andrew and I and not let him know about it. I would just whisk the kiddos off somewhere and be all ready for a fun night on the town when he arrived home. How surprised he would be that the kids weren't here! How delighted he would be that we had the evening to ourselves! How awesome of a time we would have!

Yeah... well... it didn't exactly pan out the way I had hoped. This morning I realized that because of our schedules, this evening could actually maybe work for this plan I had plotted for 2 years. So I called our neighbors who owed us a baby sitter trade and started considering how awesome it would be if I could get the whole house clean as part of the surprise. About 15 minutes after securing the babysitter, Andrew called to tell me he had a late meeting at work. Then he called back to tell me he wanted to run an errand after that and the kids and I should meet him. OH SHEESH! So I sort of ruined the surprise by saying "Wait... kids with us or without... I COULD get a babysitter.."

Anyhoo... after lots of hem-hawing I finally had to tell him I already HAD a babysitter and that I was a little bummed that our special date night was going to turn into yet another "errand running excursion." As the afternoon wore on, the house did NOT get clean, the boys were being bananas and I was pretty sure I should just cancel the babysitter.

It ended up that Andrew did not need to run the errand, so he only had the meeting that would keep him a little late, so I decided I would take the kids over anyways. So for the next 30 minutes I scrambled to spic and span the house and myself so I could still SORT OF surprise him.

And here's where the disappointment part comes in. First, Andrew's meeting ends up going like 45 minutes longer than usual, which left me kidless and waiting for my husband in a very quiet house FOREVER. (Normally a quiet house is a really really nice blessing... but today the silence just annoyed me.) And then, when he finally called to tell me his meeting was over, I was totally not nice on the phone having been so annoyed that half of surprise date was being used up by a dumb meeting.

To top it off, when my dear husband finally gets home and walks in the door, he did not react with the "Oh Wow! You and the House Look Great!" that my eternal-optimist-self was expecting. It was more of a blank stare and a "are we doing something tonight?" look. Good grief!

I'm happy to report that after a good cry (on my part) and a bit of apologizing (on Andrew's part) that the rest of date night was sensational. It included one of the best dinners I've ever tasted at my favorite restaurant and some laughter and fun and ice cream to boot. But, seriously, I'm starting to believe I should just take my husband's advice and have low expectations of everything. Then, more often than not, I'd be delighted when things weren't as awful as I expected them to be. Could I ever really live like that though?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Things you should know about me if we're gonna be BFF.

So I was at a loss for blog topics, and I stumbled across this one when googling "blog topic ideas." Not sure anyone will care to read it, but it sounded like a fun introspective writing exercise so here goes nothing...

Things you need to know about me if we're gonna be BFF (in no particular order):

1.) I do not like cooked fruit. (pie, jelly, jam, fig newtons - yuck).

2.) I am passionate about natural birth.

3.) I am passionate about SAVING THE BABIES.

4.) I am passionate about being truly and wholly Catholic. Mother Church knows her stuff, and if you disagree with something she says, then you need to go find out why she says what she says.

5.) I am introverted until I get to know you... which is super hard for me to do because I'm introverted.

6.) But once I get to know you, I'm a really goofy extrovert -- go figure.

7.) My parents are the Shiz-nit! And if I turn out to be the kind of people that they are, I would feel blessed beyond measure.

8.) Even though I'm 31, I still pretty much idolize my big brothers.

9.) I used to want a sister really really badly, but when I started young adulthood, I began to realize that girls=drama and that I was blessed to only have brothers. I was enough drama for our family.

10.) I miss stage acting.

11.) I would LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE to be in a musical.

12.) Please don't lie to me. I would rather hear a hurtful truth than a sugar coated lie.

13.) I frequently lament losing connections with old friends and always wonder what exactly happened to end the friendship.

14.) I hate, loathe and am repulsed by Calculus.

15.) I question the medical establishment - a lot.

16.) I don't like talking on the phone.

17.) If you have a problem with something I've said or done, I think it's really dumb if you won't just come talk to me about it.

18.) Don't belittle me.

19.) I never feel like I'm doing enough with everything God has blessed me with.

20.) Andrew and I are considering foster parenting.

21.) I bought a guitar for my 30th birthday and vowed to learn it by 31. It's still in my closet and I'm almost 32. BOO TO ME.

22.) Related to that, I'd love to be a part of "the U family singers" - Kind of like the Von Trapps.

23.) My favorite word is "GROWL."

24.) My husband is terribly quirky and I delight in him every day... even when he annoys the heck out of me.

25.) I love chocolate and cheese and therefore chocolate cheesecake is high on my list of "AWESOMELY DELICIOUS FOODS THAT I SHOULD NOT EAT" be continued...

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Slow and steady...

About three years ago I finally got fed up with feeling sick all the time, and after having been told by my PCP multiple times that I needed anti-depressants for my anxiety, I was ready to try something different.

Upon the recommendation of a good friend, I went to see a chiropractor. And beyond fixing my out-of-whack alignment, she started me on a path towards much better nutrition. It turned out that my feeling sick all the time had a lot to do with my body being drained from pregnancy and nursing for 3 years straight and not eating the right foods to remain nourished.

And though I feel a thousand times better than I did when I first went to her in 2008, I still get really frustrated with myself when it comes to our family's diet. Too much sugar. Too much refined wheat. Too much junk. - A mantra that runs through my head about once a week.

But in the last month or so I've started paying more attention to how we eat and how others eat, and I finally realized that we ARE making progress.

In our kitchen, you won't find pop, potato chips or white bread. We don't buy juice (unless we're making smoothies and then I go for the most pure juice I can find.) You won't find corn syrup (not even in our ketchup or jelly). We don't buy canned veggies anymore. And I won't purchase tomatoes in a can either. We eat natural peanut butter. Whole wheat or whole grain bread. Organic apples when we can afford them. And try to only eat fruits and veggies from the "clean 15" if we can't find or afford the organic versions of the "dirty" veggies and fruits.

On occasion, you can still find crackers in our house... and we still eat corn tortilla chips... but we're doing pretty good at staying away from food that can sit on a store shelf for months and months without spoiling.

I didn't realize that our diet was different from the average family until I started paying more attention to how others eat and what others use as staples in their home. I tend to compare our diet to people like Katie @Kitchen Stewardship or my good friend Blair and think "GAH!! Why do I still have refined sugar in my house???!!"... but I've decided it's a pathway and we're still on our journey. And it is not an easy journey by any means.

Sometimes I struggle because I know there needs to be a balance. I don't want my kids to spend their childhoods without the joys of candy or cupcakes or fruit loops... but I want those things to be treats - not daily indulgences. My goal in this whole journey is to set up my kids, and Andrew and myself, for long healthy lives.

For me it really comes down to two questions:  Did God gives us bodies that are meant to fall apart and get sick all the time? Or did he give us bodies that have incredible power to heal and grow and stay healthy if we only nourish them?

I absolutely believe the latter.

Monday, July 23, 2012

S... wait for it... ex

I wrote this post back in 2007, but I thought today was a good day to republish since we just began Natural Family Planning Awareness Week.

A Personal Reflection

I've always had fairly strong convictions about lots of things. Especially the big things like sex-before-marriage, contraception, drinking alcohol, etc.

As I've gotten older my convictions on all of those things have changed and rearranged and taken precedence and taken less importance... but I've always had some sort of conviction about them.

Today's blog is about sex. Prepare yourself.

I don't understand these itty bitty youngsters that are having sex. I don't think I even knew what sex was at the age of 11 or less... and there's no way I was considering participating in it by that age even if I knew what it was. And it makes me wonder why these kids are engaging in sex so early? And what made me be NOTHING like those kids?

I don't remember ever having any serious sit-down talks with my parents about how sex was sacred or sex was for marriage. And CCD back in the day surely wasn't explicit enough to discuss the importance of sex. Maybe I was just naive... or maybe I was just lucky enough to grow up in a guarded environment that kept me that way for a long time.

But even once I knew what sex was... and even once I was a senior in high school with a very serious (or as "serious" as you can really be in high school) boyfriend, sex was still not something I would have even considered. It wasn't an option for me. Where did I get that? And how do I give that to my daughter?

Now... college was a different story. Living with three sorority girls my freshman year opened my eyes or rather ears to a whole lot of things that I had never really even heard girls talk about before. As far as I knew at that time, pretty much all of my high school gal pals were still virgins or were at least pretending to be that way around me. And the naivety started to peel off a bit. And that's when I had to start thinking harder about WHY I wasn't going to have sex until I was married and WHY it was something that was important to me.

And then about my Sophomore year I came up with a metaphor that helped me sort things out a bit. To me sex was like a Ocean to someone who really loved the water. As a young person, you start out in the middle of the island...and you may encounter a puddle or two of water... maybe a small fishing pond... eventually a lake... but the closer you get to the coastline... the farther from the center of the island you walk, the harder it gets to turn around. And once you've reached the Ocean... there's no turning back. You've seen it. You've swam in it. Your first experience with the Ocean, good or bad, is something you will live with forever. And I wasn't ready to dive in.

Was I tempted? Yes. Did I get myself into relationships and situations that could have easily ended at the Ocean? Yes. Did I push my boundaries farther than I thought I ever would? Yes... but always... ALWAYS... by the grace of God, I remembered my metaphor, and I stopped. Because in my eyes the Ocean was the end all-be all. It was the perfection of what water could truly be... it was the beauty that I only wanted to share with one person. And even if I was 99.99% sure I was with that person... I wouldn't go to the Ocean until I was 100% sure.

I guess the moral of this story and perhaps the whole point of hashing these things out is to share and reflect on how incredibly grateful I am that I waited. Knowing that I've shared something with Andrew and he with me in a covenant relationship with no guilt, no regrets, and no disappointment is one of the greatest feelings in the world, and it's a feeling that I would not trade for anything else. Thanks be to God for being with me for 26 years and leading me to the man that I could finally share my whole self with.

“The human body includes right from the beginning…the capacity of expressing love, that love in which the person becomes a gift – and by means of this gift – fulfills the meaning of his being and existence.”
(Pope John Paul II, Theology Of the Body, Jan 16, 1980)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Two Invented Recipes!

Not to toot my own horn... but I was a trumpeter in high school. I invented two new recipes today, and both ended up quite delicious. Here they are:

First: The Orange Kristius
Find your favorite blender or Ninja and throw in the following ingredients. (All amounts are very estimated because who really measures when they're inventing things??)

1 large banana
1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2-1 cup orange juice
3/4 cup frozen peaches

Blend that thing up until it's nice and smooth and ENJOY.

Second: Creamy Green Beans
Again... amounts are estimated.

1 Bag frozen cut green beans
1/2 can of cream of mushroom soup
1/3 cup sour cream
Dash (or two) of Onion powder
Salt and Pepper to taste.

Cook up the green beans. Drain the water. Add in the soup, sour cream and onion powder. Heat until creamy and warm. Add salt and pepper... and VOILA - easy summer side dish without heating up the oven.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Our Canadian Family

Have you ever felt so at home and welcome with a group of people that they felt more like family than they did like friends? That feeling pretty much sums up the awesomeness of the U family's latest vacation.

Andrew, the kids and I embarked on our second Canadian road trip last week, and yet again Manitoba did not disappoint. Andrew has always considered the people we visited to be family and, after another year of invading their lives for an entire weekend, I can easily see why.

So here's a quick rundown of my favorite highlights of our Manitoba vacation:
1). The home-cooked food: Sharon's rhubarb dessert and brown bread, Andrew's chicken spaghettini, Orlan's buttered cake and truck apples, Lavonne's cream pies and shrimp and sweet biscuits and ham, Mavis' bean casserole, and the list goes on and on... Pretty sure the 5 lbs I lost pretrip will need to be re-lost.

2). The discussions: We talked about every hot button topic there was and managed to honestly share our opinions without arguing or offending one another at all. Religion, abortion, contraception, politics, family drama, work... You name it and we probably covered it. So awesome.

3). The laughs: when Orlan pulled anything that looked edible out of the freezer for breakfast only to find he had served us buttered toasted cake, we laughed. When Kev and Lavonne shared the silly stories of their grandkids and stories of their childhood, we laughed. When Mindy told us about the rocks in Dakota's crocs, we laughed. Watching their familial interactions, poking fun at each other, cracking silly jokes... We laughed and laughed and laughed.

4). The people: Orlan and Sharon, Andrew and Mindy, Kevin and Lavonne, Jed and Chris, Ryan and Barb, and all the other family and friends we spent time with on Sunday... Despite their differences and similarities they came together for a delicious meal and just made us feel right at home.

The temperature may not have reached higher than 50 degrees our entire trip, but the warmth and love we felt all around us more than made up for it. And now our kids our international travelers twice over.

Thanks Manitoba! You rock!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

It's all about integrity.

1. adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.
2.the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished: to preserve the integrity of the empire.

The last few years of job transitions and medical craziness has taught me a lot of things. But something that I learned about myself is that one of the qualities I value most about other people and the quality that I strive to make most important in my life is INTEGRITY.

I posted a link on Facebook yesterday about how Georgetown University had invited Kathleen Sebelius to speak at one of their graduation ceremonies. I happened to mention that I thought it was pretty disgraceful that a Catholic university would invite someone who openly goes against this faith to speak in a place of honor. And, as is usual with my eclectic group of friends on FB, I got a bit of backlash.

"Colleges shouldn't be in the practice of banning speakers," they said. "Sebelius has done a lot of great things as well," they said.

Yeah... I get that. That's not really the point. The point for me as that I don't think our Secretary of Health has a great deal of integrity. And for that matter... neither does our VP... or Nancy Pelosi. And here's why:

If you are going to publicly profess what religion you are. If you are going to claim that you are a Buddhist, a Catholic, an Evangelical, a Mormon... or whatever... then you better actually BE and SUPPORT the beliefs of that particular religion. Don't say you're Catholic, and then go speak at a NARAL convention about how important it is that women should be able to kill their children if they so wish. Don't say you're Catholic and then engaged in a public disagreement with the leadership of your Church on how your new mandate isn't REALLY taking away their religious freedom.

That's not integrity. If you're going to profess a faith... then live it. LIVE IT OUT LOUD.

And I'm not saying that you can't question teachings or develop your own ideas about why you practice a certain faith... that's natural. It's human. It's a path to maturity.

But when you publicly deny some of the basic tenents of that faith that you "PROFESS", then maybe it's time to rethink why you're professing it in the first place.

As a person who gets the opportunity to vote for you, how am I to trust any value you stand on if I can't even trust they way you practice your relationship with God? It makes me question your integrity.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

6 years ago... a countdown

Sometimes when I get really really starved for entertainment and I somehow convince myself that I can afford to stop cleaning or cooking or playing with the kids, I allow myself to go back and look at what life was like X amount of years ago.  And since I've been blogging for almost 9 years (holy cow), it's really really easy for me to go back and check things out.

So, since Andrew and I will be celebrating our 6th wedding anniversary this coming Sunday, I thought I'd share some memories of us in the form of linking to old posts.  Let's start with some of the early relationship posts... they're so giddy and silly.  Can I also just say that I enjoy reading all of my crazy friends' comments almost as much as reading the posts themselves.  You people were very argumentative back in the day!  Have we all dulled in our older age??

1) Alien talk for "I'm in Love": (the comments are delightful!)

2) The boyfriend met the parents.

3) Ain't Love Grand?

Well... that takes you through the first 3 months of our relationship.  More fun to come tomorrow.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Adventures in Natural Family Planning

Let's talk about sex, baby... oh wait... let's not. This post isn't going to be as much about sex as it is about marriage, because for some reason I've never really felt comfortable discussing sex with anyone other than my husband. Like it turns me about 17 shades of red if anyone even begins to ask me personally about my sex life. My kids come from storks - don't you know?! But I digress... back to the topic at hand.

So... Natural Family Planning... kind of a hot-topic right now, huh? I guess contraception is really the hot topic - what with the Health and Human Services Mandate that "IT SHALL BE FREE FOR EVERY ONE," blah blah blah. But some people think that NFP is a form of contraception (it's not)... so I suppose the topics are related (maybe).

A little background for you: All Catholic couples wishing to get married in our Diocese are required to take a natural family planning course as part of their marriage preparation. Andrew and I began learning about NFP months before we were even married. And because we had learned it, it wasn't too surprising to us when we found expecting our first baby about 3 weeks after our wedding. So we had about 3 weeks worth of actual charting practice as a married couple before we just stopped using NFP. I mean... we were pregnant for nine months. Then the stork brought Mia. And then we didn't really have a good reason to wait for another kid so we figured why would we bother with charting my cycles... and that big white bird dropped Vince by our house... and we still didn't have a great reason to wait an extensive amount of time for a third kid, so we half-assedly (yes... I just said half-assendly) charted when we thought about it, and before long came Mr. William. And that's when things changed.

Because little Will was a preemie, an emergency c-section, and the product of an extremely stressful pregnancy, we finally had a serious reason to wait a while before #4, God-willing, were to come into this world. But it had been 6 years since we really used NFP, so we had to re-learn the method. Am I going anywhere with this post? Yes... yes I am. And this is where it gets good.

So in half-assedly (there's that word again) practicing NFP for 6 years, we sort of forgot some of the cool things about the method. I mean, we never used it to ACHIEVE a pregnancy. We just sort of didn't care if we did achieve... so I'm not sure we were really using the method at all.

But now we're playing a whole new ball game. (That last sentence is super funny if you were at our wedding - if you weren't, you're missing out.) You see, the past year *and especially the last few months as William has started weaning*, the hubs and I have actually had to talk to each other about whether we were ready for another kid. We've had to stay in conversation with each other and with God about what His plan for our family was. And - though this slightly betrays my first paragraph about embarassing sex talk - I'm just going to say that practicing chastity within marriage is far more difficult than practicing it outside of marriage. I mean each night you're in the same bed with the one person in the world who you love the most... the one who did something extra nice or sweet that day... the one who, for some reason you can't even figure out, looks extra good that day (usually that indicates a hormonal shift - fyi)... and you can't touch them. Well... you can... but then you start engines that have to be shut off... yada yada... okay too much info. (I'm currently about the 13th shade of red after that paragraph.) Back to the topic.

I have discovered in the past few months what a blessing Natural Family Planning is. I've always appreciated it for what it tells me about the health of my body. And I've always liked that it's a completely un-chemically way of avoiding pregnancy if we need to. But I'm finally seeing the beauty of it as a part of marriage. It definitely calls a person to a higher level of marital love. You cannot be selfish and practice Natural Family Planning - those two things just don't work together. You must constantly be thinking of the well-being of your spouse -- and, believe me, that is a sensational way to grow in holiness. It's no wonder that so few NFP couples ever get divorced. When you're actively and frequently thinking about your spouse and the good of your family over your own wants or needs, you're bound to have a pretty healthy marriage (especially when you're both working together.)

I don't have a good closing for this post except to say that if you're not using NFP, I highly recommend it. You are missing out!

Oh and here are some resources if you're extra motivated to check some stuff out:
Different NFP Methods
Natural... Why Not? (pdf)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pink Roses

Seven years ago this evening, a handsome young man came to the doorway of the Daisy House with a single solitary pink rose for me. He had come to take me on a date-our very first-to go out to dinner and see the Shockers play basketball. I was so excited.

It had been only one short month that we'd known each other. We met on a retreat for young adults at the retreat center where I now work, oddly enough. I was on the retreat team and Andrew was going on the retreat with his sister. I remember thinking when he checked into the retreat that he definitely looked like "my type." You know... the tall, skinny, nerdy-but-cute type to which I had always been drawn. The next morning at breakfast, I was serving and he came through the line. I said, "You're Andrew, right?" He was shocked that I knew his name and asked me about it as I came to sit down for a meal near him later that day. I just said that I'd been working on remembering all the retreatants names... which was mostly true... kind of.

That was our first official conversation. The next few weeks would bring me many opportunities to flirt with this new man that I'd met. He was at our house for the Super Bowl party that year and I remember we sat next to each other the entire night. A few days after that a bunch of us went out for his sister's birthday and ended up back at the house afterwards. I was finishing crocheting my first scarf, and as I finished, Andrew decided he would wrap it around his head to model it. His wonderful sissy - Thanks Marianna - said "YOU SHOULD TAKE A PICTURE TOGETHER!" So Andrew scooched over next to me and we took our first photo. Did I mention he put his arm around me? I was all a flutter.

Then Mardis Gras rolled around and I thought I would be watching American Idol by myself as I waited for the other young adults to arrive for Rosary night. Then Andrew called me up and asked what I was doing. I said I was just going to watch TV and make brownies for Mardis Gras until everyone arrived, so nervously I suggested he come over and join me. I thought for sure it would be awkward since it was our first time alone together... but I don't even remember watching TV at all. We talked non-stop. And when it was time to make the brownies for the Mardis Gras celebration, I became even more smitten with this man when he pulled out his white apron and got ready to cook with me.

So when he arrived on my doorstep that chilly February evening for our first date... I had a hunch that something wonderful was beginning. And after that evening of talking and cheering for the Shocks and hanging out together, I came home, said night prayers with Andrew and hugged him goodbye. I walked into my room, opened my journal, and wrote "I think I just went on my first date with the man I'm going to marry."

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pure Country - 20 years later

Thanks to some very generous Christmas presents in the form of cash, Andrew and I were able to take a RARE but AWESOME expensive date night. Last weekend we double dated with George Strait and Martina McBride-- and we were so privileged that they serenaded us!!

The concert was phenominal. Easily in my top five. But there was one thing that I was not prepared for...

I was super duper pumped to see George. I love his music. I love his swagger. I love his country-boy-ness. I used to imagine myself to be Harley in Pure Country. Perhaps some mysterious cowboy would come sweep me off my feet. So I went to the concert all excited to see this man:


After Martina gave a rocking 70 minute performance, my excitement built even more. The intermission ended, and I was more excited. When the lights dimmed again, I was practically beside myself. And then... this man walked out:


Holy Grandpa!!! When did THAT happen?? I leaned over to Andrew and said, "Awww... he looks like a Grandpa... I kind of want to give him a hug." There were at least 10 other moments like this through George's performance when I leaned over to Andrew and commented on how much older he looked than I thought he would. I mean, people, it blew my mind! Then George announced that his son had just had a kid.  He actually IS a grandpa!!!  

Dear Paula Cole, in answer to your question, "where have all the cowboys gone?"... I say "They're still around.  They've just aged... A LOT."

Now I don't know why I was so shocked by this. When Pure Country came out, I looked like this:
(Technically this was 1994... but close enough.  Check out those glasses!)

And now, I look like this:

(I'm the old one.)

Could someone explain how 20 years just blipped out of my life?!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Happy Birthday, Amelia Grace!

Today our little wedding gift from God turns five years old. I can hardly fathom how quickly those five years have flown by. But what better to do on her fifth birthday than direct you to some of my favorite past blogs all about her:

1) World Record Breaker - June 2006
2) Hello, My Baby... Hello, My Darlin - August 2006
3) Amelia Grace - a Birth Story - February 2007 and Super Cute first photos!!
4) Just Cute - June 2007.
5) Mia goes mobile! - Sept 2007
6) Adventures in Nursing - Oct 2007
7) Fashion Faux Pas - February 2008
8) Mia turns TWO, then THREE, then FOUR and starts pre-K!!

Happy 5th birthday to the smartest, most beautiful, neatest little 5-year-old I know! I love you!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Has it been a year already?

Happy Birthday, Little Will!
It's hard to believe that it's been a year since all this went down.  What a crazy pregnancy... and a crazy day that was.  But our little 33-weeker is turning ONE today, and he is such a blessing!!  Here are two never-before-seen photos from the first time I got to really hold him:

I can hardly believe how very tiny he was... how many tubes he was hooked up to for two weeks... the apnea monitor he was hooked up to for 2 months... or the way we had to keep him away from people for fear of germs his entire first winter.

Because nowadays he just seems like a normal one-year-old to me (if only just a bit smaller.)  He is crawling and cruising and babbling.  He's the sweetest little baby.  Happy most of the time. Very laid back.  Probably the easiest of my three, and it's not like the other two were terribly difficult babies.    He has been a blessing to our little family in so many ways!!

I love you so much little WSU!  I can't wait for many more years of getting to know you.  Happy FIRST birthday!!