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April 30, 2012

Monday Mumbles - 26


1.  I'm going with a shortened version of Mumbles today because I was too exhausted to write them ahead of time.

2.  Had a lovely trip to Richmond, VA this weekend to party with my fam as we celebrated a cousin's wedding.  She got married in France early in April and this was the celebration my family is noted for.

3.  My kids had a blast hanging out with cousins they don't get to see very often.  Sarah is already pining for the SC group of girls and asking when we'll see them again.

4.  Went to Mass at St. Benedict's in Richmond and was floored at how much Latin they have incorporated.  When I visit Richmond, I go to St. Benedict's because it's my Aunt's parish, and 8 years ago, they weren't doing that much Latin.  But they now do the Gloria, the full Kyrie Chant, the Sanctus, the Agnus Dei and a few other chants.  I enjoyed it even though it was a little frustrating since I wasn't sure with my Latin. 

5.  I introduced myself to the priest as we were leaving and told him I was from Kansas City and he said they have a family from their parish that is moving to Kansas City and then he introduced me to the mom via e-mail!  How awesome is that!?

6.  I went back to Boot Camp this morning.  I thought I'd quit it because of the cost.  But then I saw the auto-debit hitting Thursday morning and figured..."Back at it for May!"  We ended up doing a lot of Burpees.  A lot.  So, now I am sore.  Oh well...it's good for me.  

okay...I have a visit/play-date with the boys scheduled this morning so I need to get going.  I go back to work tomorrow, so I'm still playing today!  :)

Have a Great Monday!!!

April 27, 2012

7 Quick Takes (22)

--- 1 ---
I skipped Boot Camp this week.  I started thinking that I really shouldn't double our expenditure on workouts for the month.  The cost of the Boot Camp per month is the same cost for our family's Community Center membership.  But then, this morning I saw that the auto-debit was posting to my account.  I think I'm going back for May.

--- 2 ---

Since I skipped Boot Camp, I only got in a 30 minute walk for three days and then nothing.  It's hard for me to get my butt out the door for just a simple old run anymore.  It didn't always have this problem.  I trained for my marathon all by my lonesome in 2007 and got out for my runs the whole time.  I guess I'm getting old.

--- 3 ---

Have you ever had a talk with someone and later re-hashed portions of it in your brain and completely talk yourself into believing the other person thinks you must be a moron?  No?  I'm the only person with this horrid disorder?


--- 4 ---

We are celebrating one of my cousin's recent nuptials this weekend.  I love weddings.  I didn't get to attend this particular wedding (seeing how it took place in France and all) but I am glad it worked out that I get to attend the party.  I'm always down for a good party.
--- 5 ---

Have you ever gotten one of those Spray Tans?  I had heard of them, and seen them advertised at the same places where you can lay in a tanning bed, but I had never actually had it done.  One of my FB friends (and the mother of Helen's BFF) has the means to do this and offers is in the spring to friends for a minimal fee.  I took her up on it this week and so I have this sprayed on tan and looks pretty cool.  I am sure you can tell it is sprayed on, but I really don't care.  I like it and it isn't orange.  And I didn't expose myself to a chance of skin cancer to get it, which is probably the best part.

--- 6 ---

In addition to (and concurrent with) that party this weekend...I get to see my sister who lives in SC and her lovely family!  She just had her baby #5 in February, he is 2 months old and I. can't. wait. to hold the little guy.  My sister hasn't seen Vincent since he was 3 weeks old either. 
--- 7 ---

Craig is completely on his own this weekend.  He will probably attend Mass, but other than that has no commitment other than his job.  In the comments today, let's have a little fun!  Please leave a suggestion, thought, idea, or prediction of what--besides work at his job--you would think Craig will do this weekend!

I hope you have a fabulous weekend!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

April 25, 2012

"Curiouser and Curiouser!"

After I wrote my post the other day on how the Marquette Method works, I found myself wondering what the fuss was all about using a natural method of spacing babies anyway?  

I thought a little bit about how nervous I was to broach the subject with my husband 10+ years ago that we really ought to give this Natural Family Planning thing a shot.  Why was I so nervous?  It was probably due to my unfamiliarity with doing something that seemed like doing nothing. 

High school sex ed says "Natural Family Planning" equals "Rhythm Method" equals completely UNRELIABLE, therefore, it is scary to think about venturing into that unknown.  But really, with the science surrounding fertility and multiple NFP methods (Marquette, Sympto-Thermal, Creighton, Billings) NFP is anything BUT "doing nothing."  Working with our bodies' biorhythms instead of fighting or trying to squelch them makes so much more sense to me NOW.  But it didn't before I gave it a whirl.

Further, presenting contraception as the only reliable way to space babies borders a bit on an outright falsehood.  Nothing is 100% effective, except abstinence, and that goes for married, un-married, teenager, 20-something...the only sure-fire way to know you're not going to be pregnant is not to engage in sex. Raise your hand if you have ever met someone who was a result of a pill-popping failure?  The little insert that comes with the pills states that there is a chance for "breakthrough ovulation."   

About a month ago, I read Rebecca's post at Shoved to Them where she detailed how many times she was blessed as a result of contraceptive method failures.  Of course, she doesn't see the children as failures at all...but when one experiences just about every contraceptive-failure possible (just about...not every of course), one might start to understand that a Natural Family Planning method is certainly just as reliable as all those other contraceptive methods, and honestly...a whole lot less of a pain in the butt.

Why is it that many doctors dismiss NFP and insist you must pump your body full of hormones through a pill, or a shot or an IUD?  One theory is that Big Pharma pushes it on doctors to keep those prescriptions coming.  I wouldn't doubt it.  Another is that because medical school is full of education on medicine and how those medicines work (or don't work), there's not time to teach how NFP works and how it might benefit patients, as opposed to other methods.  

Ultimately, it is human beings' need/desire to be in control.  What's ironic is, they really are giving up an awful lot of control to birth control pills, shots, IUD's...right?  I mean, they are trusting something that doesn't have a brain and is designed to thwart a process that can, at any point in time, switch up because it is a force of nature a biological process that is unique and unpredictable (not every woman has 28 days cycles, and even if a woman does have 28 day cycles, one cycle might all of a sudden be 22 days...just because).  

I think that you either put your faith in your spouse and yourself, to monitor your biological signs and learn what they mean and trust your spouse and yourself to act according to your agreed upon course of action for that cycle (achieve or avoid)...

OR you put your faith in a pill that even when taken 100% correctly has that chance of allowing a "breakthrough ovulation"...

OR you put your faith in a shot of high-dose hormone that will give you headaches and may or may not keep you from getting pregnant ("breakthrough ovulations" here, too)...

OR you put your faith in an IUD, which actually has a very poor success rate at avoiding pregnancy, but a rather high success rate at ripping apart the inside of your uterus so a newly conceived child can't implant...

OR you put your faith in some doctor to sterilize you...cut you up and make you into something you were not before (that's an awful lot of faith if you ask me) and you might end up with some physical, mental or emotional baggage as a result.

You see...every couple makes a decision to put their faith somewhere.  

What perplexes me is the fact that so many lack faith in themselves.

April 23, 2012

Marquette - Not just a University in Wisconsin

There is a new website coming May 1st.  I'm really excited about it.  It's iusenfp.com.  Katie at NFP and Me wrote this post a couple of months ago exploring what we could do to really promote NFP as the viable alternative it is to using artificial hormones or IUD's or sterilization.  Around the same time, the hashtag, #IuseNFP began trending on Twitter and some of us were having a lot of fun tweeting out in 140 characters or less why #IuseNFP.  Then Katie started putting I use NFP buttons together using information from the #IuseNFP tweets.  And then, she and Kayla from Alluring World sprung the idea for iusenfp.com.  

And then, they started asking for help to get lots of info on the site and I offered to write a little bit about Marquette Method of NFP.  Here's what I've got.  It gets to double as a post for me, so I'm all good with that.  :)

Are you looking into Natural Family Planning (NFP) and curious about how it works?


Perhaps you've been doing NFP for awhile, and the method you have been using doesn't seem to be working or it might be frustrating and you're interested in learning a different method.


You might just be perfectly happy doing nothing and taking babies as they come at this point, but you're curious about this NFP stuff and you wonder what all your "Fringe"-Catholic Mommy-Friends are doing.  (Leila always has the best posts!)


You want to participate in an argument about which NFP method is the best so you want to learn about a different method.


Maybe you're one of those people who just SWEARS that NFP is the Rhythm Method and you're here to bust it all up with your oh-so-intelligent-comments.  

Whatever your reason, I'm GLAD you're here because I'm going to write a little how-to and a little how-do-I-like about the Marquette Method of NFP.

How did I learn about Marquette?

My husband and I used Sympto-Thermal Method (STM) for our first 8 years of our Authentic Catholic Marriage (that is...from about the time our oldest daughter was 6 months old).  We were okay with that method.  It had served its purpose.  We had followed all the rules (yup...every dang one of 'em!) and had avoided pregnancy when we'd discerned we should and achieved pregnancy when we'd discerned we should.  The biggest struggle had been the fact that my temperatures were unreliable because my temperature runs pretty low as it is and even when it shifted, it rarely gave us a good 0.4 degree shift like our method expected and needed in order to make our charts crystal clear.  A slighter struggle was with my erratic cycles...I never got a clear indicator that ovulation happened, and sometimes I had some spotting mid-cycle.

While pregnant with our 4th child in 2008, (yes, we actually tried to get pregnant with him, too), I heard about Marquette.  Well, I had heard about Marquette back in 2003, but I had completely poo-poo'ed it because, who wants to pay all that money for the stinkin' monitor?  

I digress (and more on that monitor later).

At my post-partum checkup with my doctor after my dear baby boy was born, Doctor told me about how Marquette University was doing a study on the efficacy of Natural Family Planning and they had actually been granted GOVERNMENT money for their study.  Holy cow!  The pro-abortion, pro-contraception, anti-baby government was forking over some grant money for an efficacy study on Natural Family Planning?!?  Sign me up!  Anyway, if I participated in the study, I could get a ClearBlue Easy Ovulation Monitor as part of my payment.  ahem...did I say...Sign me up!

So, we joined the study...got slotted into the "monitor group" and received the monitor immediately as it was part of the study.  The catch of the study was that we could only chart the monitor readings and had to abide by them for avoiding pregnancy.  This was kind of scary for me because I'd been checking my mucous for 8 years...what if the monitor didn't work?  But, I remembered that with STM, we had a similar question that went like this, "What if I mis-read my mucous or temperature shifts?"  And we leapt in faith into a new method of Natural Family Planning.

Well, sort of.  For 13 cycles, while we participated in the Marquette study, we used only the ClearBlue Easy Ovulation Monitor to alert us to whether we were in the fertile time or not.  As with most methods, the most conservative rule is to abstain for all the days until after ovulation is confirmed and adding three days (or PEAK + 3 days).  So, I faithfully used the monitor every cycle, testing each morning until I received the PEAK reading, then tacked on 3 days and we were certain we were in the clear.  

After 13 charted cycles using the monitor only, we were able to really practice the Marquette Method by recording mucous observations AND the ovulation monitor readings.  And due to that, we could use some of the less-conservative-but-still-pretty conservative rules for intercourse that didn't involve so much abstinence (The best example is the "Last Dry Day Rule").

 How does Marquette work?

Marquette Method utilizes the Clearblue Easy Fertility Monitor ...
...cross-checked with mucous observations to help a woman identify her fertile time. The monitor measures estrogen and then luteinizing hormone (LH) levels in your urine.  When using the Marquette method, the woman's first order of business every morning from about day 6 until the day she ovulates is to test her first morning urine (FMU) using test sticks and the monitor.

When a woman's body is gearing up to ovulate, often her estrogen levels rise.  when this happens, the monitor will detect it and record a HIGH reading (which is up to two bars in the picture above).  At the time that a follicle is ripe and ready to release from the ovary, there is an LH surge that can be detected in the urine.  When the monitor detects this LH surge, the monitor will yield a PEAK reading (or, like the picture above, three bars with an egg in the top bar).

Scientists have discovered that most women ovulate only one egg each cycle.  The egg lives for 24 hours and if it is not fertilized will die.  Additionally, sperm will die if they are in a hostile environment.  A woman's body is actually a hostile environment most of the cycle.  But in the days and hours leading up to ovulation, the woman's body provides a very welcome environment for sperm and therefore, in a healthy, hospitable environment, sperm can live up to 5-6 days.

After the monitor has detected the LH Surge and recorded a PEAK reading, no more tests are needed.  The monitor will automatically record a second day of PEAK, then an automatic reading of HIGH will occur the day after that and then the monitor will automatically move back to the LOW reading. 

One big thing to note...the monitor might still ask for a test the next morning after a PEAK was recorded, but no test is needed (save those sticks!)

When trying to avoid pregnancy, depending on the desire to avoid, a couple might abstain until they receive the PEAK reading and wait three days.  from PEAK + 3 going forward in that cycle, all days are infertile and for the avoiding couple, here is your "honeymoon."  Anytime a couple has intercourse before a PEAK reading is recorded, there is a chance they might become pregnant, which is why I noted that it depends on the desire of the couple.  A couple with a very strong desire to avoid, would most likely always wait until a PEAK reading has occurred and wait the three days after.  

All the while, in the evenings, mucous recordings can be made.  The Marquette Website has online charting available with pictures that help show what LOW, HIGH and PEAK mucous might look like.  It's up to an individual woman how she might take her mucous observations, whether external or internal, but this information can be logged on the chart along with the monitor readings.

The online chart has an algorithm installed that will help determine the start and end of fertile days based on cycle history and current cycle information.  For example, I have a history of ovulating day 18-22, so my algorithm starts my fertile phase on day 9 (as opposed to day 6 for someone who might have a regular ovulation on day 14-16).  Once a PEAK reading is noted on either the monitor or the mucous readings, the algorithm adds three days and closes out the fertile period on the chart.

Why do I like Marquette?

For avoiding pregnancy, I find the certainty of ovulation I get with the ClearBlue Easy Fertility Monitor to be the main reason I like Marquette Method and why I will most likely use this method for the duration of my fertile years if we are trying to avoid.  Because I have received this certainty, I am able to read my mucous much more clearly.  What I used to chart as PEAK mucous, I have found is not really PEAK.  And I don't have to worry about my temperatures, at least for determining ovulation.  

I still treat my luteal phase defect with progesterone for 10 days every cycle.  But this is helped by the monitor because there is less chance that I begin to take the progesterone before ovulation, thereby suppressing ovulation.  (Go HERE for explanation of Luteal Phase Defect and how it can be treated.)

A search on the Marquette website and through the forums can give you a better idea of their breastfeeding protocol.  I cannot speak to that because I have not nursed the babies I have had since following Marquette.  According to my doctor, they have been doing another study on the efficacy of the breastfeeding protocol and there is something published somewhere (I didn't have time to get a link from him yet) that Marquette Method provides a lesser amount of abstinence post-partum than other methods.  I can't really speak to that because I do not breastfeed and, honestly, my husband and I are very conservative post-partum and even if we think it's "safe" sometimes, we still abstain and pray about it some more. 

April 16, 2012

Monday Mumbles - 25


Happy almost-tax day, right?  Did you know there is some holiday in Washington D.C. that makes it so you have until midnight the 17th this year to mail your return (since the 15th was a Sunday?)  File that in the interesting facts you probably couldn't care to know.  :)

Anywho...it's Monday!

1.  I got a run and a swim in on Saturday!  go me!  I only swam 1000 yards...but it was in 20 minutes and I ran a 5K (29:58, thank you very much!) on the treadmill first.  Ha!

2.  Boot Camp, week 4...in progress.  You know...I gotta be real here about something.  Mostly women read this blog, right?  And we want to know each other, right?  So if you're a guy...skip to #3, please.  Well, anyway...you know that week every month where you just wish you could stay in bed?  Does anyone else put on something like 4-6 pounds those 4 or 5 days?  No?  Well, don't tell me then.

3.  Prayed a Rosary with the kids last night before bed.  And still got them in bed by 8:00 (Vincent was in bed by 8:22, after his bottle).  I read this piece at NCR Saturday and it really kind of hit me that I need to do better.

4.  I went out to dinner Saturday night with another mom-friend.  It was fun!  I have gotten into this getting a sitter and going out at least once a month, even though Craig is working on the weekend.  I really have no idea why it took until I had 5 kids to think I could do something like that!  But it's been good to connect with other moms or with the ladies at work, or just to go to a movie by myself!  I enjoy getting out with Craig, too, but I am finding this once-a-month thing where I go out with friends or on my own is becoming something important.

5. I cleaned each bathroom in our house on Saturday.  I have been having the girls clean them, too, as part of their weekly chores.  But, you probably understand what I mean when I say, every so often the bathrooms need the Mother's Touch. 

6.  We are hosting a little girl from our parish school this week while her parents take a trip.  She is in the first grade, but good playmate with Dani and Helen both.  I think it will be fun!

7.  An awesome part of this arrangement is that this couple offered to keep our kids as a return favor for Craig and me to take a trip somewhere.  WOW!  Like, they said they'd keep all five of them.  For realz.

8.  So, I don't know if I ever mentioned it on here...but Craig got promoted a few months ago!  I think officially he is called a Dual Pit Manager and it means that most of the time he is a supervisor, but he can be called in to be a Pit Manager or scheduled to be a Pit Manager to cover absences and such.  It's kind of a half-step up thing to help prepare for the full-time gig of a Pit Manager if one were to become available and Craig wanted to pursue it.  Pretty cool, huh?

9.  We did a lot of pushups last week at Boot Camp.  A. LOT.  and my shoulder was hurting this weekend.  Just my right one.  I'm a little concerned about it, because I figure that if it were only due to soreness, I would feel the same kind of pain in both shoulders.  I guess we'll see how things go this weekend.  It sucks getting old, I tell ya.

10.  Do you ever remember something and you wonder why?  For example, I remember that today, April 16, is Kim Chase's birthday.  Kim Chase was a girl in my class at my Catholic School from 1st grade through 8th grade.  And for some reason, every April 16th, I remember that it is her birthday and I mentally say, "Happy Birthday, Kim, wherever you are" because we don't keep in touch or anything. 

So...Happy Birthday, Kim, wherever you are!

Bonus:  I realized last night that I told someone that Dominic is 4 years old.  But he is 3.  See, he is fairly mature for a 3-year-old and communicates in a little more advanced way than a 3-year-old. 

For example, on Saturday this exchange took place in our front play room:

Me:  Dominic, if you joyfully pick up the toys in this room, I will give you a great big hug!

Dom:  mmmmmmmmm, how about you give me 50 cents?

Seriously.  I was beside myself. 

And I gave him the 50 cents.  And he argued with me that I shorted him because it was only two coins.

What the...?

Have a great Monday!!!

April 14, 2012

The Saturday Evening Blog Post (6)

It's time again for The Saturday Evening Blog Post, hosted by Elizabeth Esther.  I was surprised at what I had to choose from in March.  But when I saw that March was the month I shared MO Senator Claire McCaskill's correspondence with me regarding the failed Blunt Amendment and my response to her, I knew that was the one to share.

Be sure to visit Elizabeth Esther's blog and meet some other bloggers!

April 13, 2012

7 Quick Takes (21) - OKAY an UPDATE to keep my sanity :)

I haven't done these for a few weeks!  My secret hope is that I end my string of comment-less days.  Ha!

--- 1 ---
I started participating in Boot Camp workouts three weeks ago.  Three weeks later, I do feel stronger and a little bit lighter.  That's a win! 
--- 2 ---

I have been going to Weight Watchers at work meetings since mid-February.  I just hit my 5% milestone yesterday!  I was excited.  I had kind of figured it wouldn't happen until next week because the week included Easter and a couple of poor eating days.  But I guess I didn't do as poorly as I thought and I'm sure the Boot Camp and extra run last week didn't hurt anything.  Included with that 5% milestone was my 10 pound milestone, too.  So I was a celebratin' fool at the meeting yesterday.

Okay, after a couple of comments, I will go ahead and divulge some info that I hadn't shared before.  the 5% milestone is hit once you have lost 5% of your body weight.  I just happened to hit my 5% the same day I also hit 10 pounds.  I started at 188, and I am now 177.8.  9 pounds was my 5%.  A week ago, I was just 0.8 away from meeting my 5% goal and was kind of annoyed, but figured I'd get there soon.  Then this week, I lost 2 pounds so I blew past that 5% milestone AND got my 10 pound milestone together.  That was fun.  Now the next goal is to have my total loss be 10% of my body weight which would put me at 170.  After that I will set an actual goal weight. 

I should probably do a post about how much I like Weight Watchers PointsPlus program.
--- 3 ---

I get to share a major announcement today with my team since my manager is out of the office.  Our meeting is in 30 minutes.  Yowsa!  It will be fun, though.  (Yes, it's the "good" kind of announcement) :)

Okay!  Yikes!!  Thank you Molly for showing me in your comment how an unclear QT of this kind could take on a life of its own!  Holy Moly!  while my husband and I remain open to life, at this time we are definitely in the TTA segment of using NFP with our youngest being only 9 months and the fact that we've not prayerfully discerned to do otherwise.  So, no, the announcement was not of the pregnancy sort!  :)

Actually, my work environment is moving to a Jeans-Every-Day dress code!  Yes...we are ALL very happy about it!
--- 4 ---

Have you read this letter?  I mentioned it here.  There are now 26,000 PLUS women who have signed it.  What's awesome is that you can see the credentials of all the women:  there are stay-at-home moms, there are work-outside-the-home moms, there are single women, there are professors and there are doctors and lawyers and teachers and just any kind of woman.  That just shows how much the women who hold policy-making positions in this country are out of touch with so many women in so many different walks of life.
--- 5 ---

Please help promote this letter, if you are so inclined.  I feel it goes farther than the HHS Mandate.  I have LONG held the position that I disliked how typical feminist and women's lobby groups tried to portray that they speak for ALL women.  I mean for YEARS I have disliked it and I have written my representatives, but I always wondered if I was the only woman offended.  Now I know there are others like me and we have to make sure we share our voice and make it heard and make a difference in the representation in policy-making positions.

--- 6 ---

Today is opening day for the Royals.  Lots of excitement here in KC around this team this year. They are so young, but so good.  I hope the season is successful.  Kansas City is hosting the all-star game this year, too, which is really cool.  I have to admit, I haven't gotten my family out to the K since they renovated and spruced it up.  I need to try and get us all out there this year.
--- 7 ---

Quick Take - Kid Update!

Sarah has a volleyball game tonight.  Last week she had two and I was able to watch the first one, but I took the other kids home because 4 hours is just too long for them to hang around a gym not really doing anything.  I found out in the second game she had two for-realz "Spikes" over the net for points!  I got texts from two of the moms and then I ran into another mom on Saturday who told me about it.  Ah...proud moment from this volleyball mama.  :) 

Dani was supposed to start soccer games this week, but last night was rained out.  So we wait for Tuesday! 

I had Helen's pictures taken by an individual photography studio.  Here are the "teaser photos".  I wish I knew what to expect as far as cost goes...I wanted to buy so many photos...but they are way more expensive (even with a discount!) than going to JC Penny or Portrait Innovations or something.  Oh well, they were pretty cute, though.

Dominic actually ate a cheeseburger this week.  And then he tried steak fingers last night.  I told him that he should try to be a "big preschool boy" and try new food.  And it worked (so far)!!!  I hope it continues.

Vincent is way too cute.  Really.  I know every mom thinks her baby is way cute...but seriously.  I am so completely head-over-heels in love with that boy.  *sigh*

I hope you have a fabulous weekend!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

April 12, 2012

Thankful Thursdays (17)

Today, I am thankful...
  • for my family
  • for a wonderful Easter week
  • for opportunity to share things like Titanic and Harry Potter with Sarah
  • for Boot Camp (yeah...I said it)

Please visit Rebecca for more thankfulness.

April 11, 2012

A Beautiful, God-glorifying Ending To My Story

A couple of weeks ago, Jennifer Fulwiler wrote this post where she asked:

What do you want the story of your life to be? What would a beautiful, God-glorifying ending look like? And now: What is your Antagonist?
I immediately copied and pasted that quote into a new draft because I want to explore this.  If you have ever read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, you have read and explored the idea of "beginning with the end in mind".  It's an exercise a person can use to understand where to start with a project, a relationship, or yes, even life, by contemplating what the ultimate goal is. 

Asking what I want the story of my life to be is beginning with the end in mind.

So, I'm going to get those questions out of order for a second and first ask,

Well, the answer, in my book, is that I'll be in Heaven, complete union with God.  My human-ness tells me that I'll be happier if all of my family and friends are there with me, but my well-formed catechetical brain reminds me that if I am in union with God, I will have complete whole-ness, complete happiness, regardless of who is there with me. 

I'm not going to lie...I truly hope I am raising my children in such a way that they, too, will choose to be in Heaven with God, and I do believe that would contribute to a beautiful, God-glorifying ending to my life.  One of the biggest and most overwhelming assignments of the vocation of wife and mother is to help guide my spouse and our children to Heaven.  I hope to accomplish this.  I would imagine that whether I truly end up in Heaven, in complete union with God, is reliant on my efforts in that respect.

So, by considering what a beautiful God-glorifying end looks like, I now want to consider...


I think I should be happy if the legacy I leave is one filled with love, compassion, understanding, and devotion to God. 

So, of course, now comes the part where I acknowledge that which stands in my way. 

What is my Antagonist?

The first thing that stands in my way of living a life steeped in love for others is myself.  Focusing on my own needs or focusing on that which would make my life easier are ways that I do not put God first and, consequently, do not put the needs of my family and neighbor in proper priority.  Very simply, I want my life to be love.  If my ultimate goal is to be in Heaven in complete union with God...who is love, himself...then I must strive to be love here in my earthly life.  As a wife, I must love my husband unconditionally, support him spiritually and guide him toward that which is best for him.  As a mother, I must love my children unconditionally, give them opportunities to grow in faith, hope and love, support them spiritually and do my best to guide them toward that which is best for them.  As a citizen, I must love my neighbor as myself.  I must look for ways (big and small) to make a positive difference for others and, if possible, point them toward goodness, whole-ness, holiness.  

One of the biggest things I remember growing up was learning the order of priorities.  God-First, Family-Second, Country/Neighbors-Third.  No where in that list does "Self" appear.  That's not to mean that a person shouldn't tend to their needs at some point, it's just that a person should not always be seeking to fulfill her own needs and neglect God, family or fulfill her own needs to the detriment of society.

What parts of myself play a bigger part in this Antagonist role?  My pride for sure.  My impatience.  My mouth (I'm a horrible gossip).  My overall selfish nature. 

I have had an inkling about these things in myself for a long time.  One need only be a fly on the wall in the confessional to know how often I confess the sin of gossip, of my impatient attitude with my husband and children and the times I must confess that I have placed other things ahead of God in my life. 

I am just now putting a different spin on understanding my flaws.  Viewing these things as an Antagonist...an obstacle in my pursuit of a life of love...identifies "the enemy" so to speak.  And identification is half the battle.  Putting a name to it takes away it's power over me.

So, in order to attain the beautiful God-glorifying ending to this life of mine, I must understand that my strength, my struggles, my wins -- all of it is nothing without God.  Without Him, I never exist in the first place.  Without Him, my body is empty.  I am dust...to dust I shall return...but my soul is alive!  My soul thirsts to join God at the end of my earthly existence.  Protecting my soul from my pride and eliminating the need to use my mouth as a weapon are my challenges.  Loving my children's souls with my own soul...loving with the Heart of God is how I accomplish this. 

It's no small task, I realize.  It will take me my whole life...and maybe even longer (I'm pretty sure I've got a room set up in Purgatory). 

I identify the goal.

I identify the Antagonist.

And now...I get to work.

April 10, 2012

Base Humanity

I went to see Titanic in 3D last night.  I took Sarah and we went with a friend who has a daughter in Sarah's class.  I had not seen this movie since the time I saw it in the theater in 1997.  I might not have thought to take Sarah if my friend hadn't mentioned taking her daughter. 

Watching the movie in 3D was an interesting experience.  You really do get the feeling you are right there.  There were some parts I could have lived my whole life without seeing in 3D, though...the part where someone falls from the tip of the ship and bounces off one of the ship's propellers is definitely one of them.  The view, however, of Rose standing on the tip where all she sees in front of her is the ocean was definitely worth it.  Very cool.

Anyway, Titanic is a great movie.  The love story is well done.  Jack Dawson is so likeable.  Rose's fiancee is so unlikable.  I think even today, lots of women can relate to the options and choices Rose was faced with as far as her future, the marriage she was set to enter into, and society were concerned.  The contrast between "first class" and "third class" on the ship is understood and abhorrent at the same time; understood because that was "just the way it was" and abhorrent because...really, why is any one group of people treated with more dignity than another based solely on societal status and net worth?

Titanic is the kind of movie that keeps you thinking for awhile after you see it.  I kind of like those types of movies and there aren't that many that hit me that way.  Ghandi was kind of like that.  So was Hotel Rwanda.  And The Passion of The Christ was like that, too.  Titanic displayed some of the best parts of our human existence with some of the worst.  And I know the movie is James Cameron's interpretation of the historical event, but it is an interpretation borne in our realities of human existence.

Even today, there are those who deem themselves worthy of declaring one class of people inferior to another.  Even today, there are marriages "arranged" of a sort among people of high society and immense wealth to maintain that status.  Even today, there are Jack Dawson's who are simply thankful for a chance to do something interesting.  And today, there are parents imposing their will on their children as Rose's mother attempts to do and guilt or manipulate their children into living a life for the benefit of the parent.

One of the more emotionally wrenching experiences is watching this snapshot of humanity at its base, as depicted in a movie like Titanic.  It wears me out to see self-serving natures like that of Cal, Rose's fiancee, and his police-type-enforcer guy as well as the guy who took a spot on the lifeboat that was intended for women and children. 

And it was horrible watching Rose's mother belittle and manipulate her and explain that Rose MUST marry Cal because if she didn't, she (the mother) would be a "pauper" and lose all her "precious things."  So interesting to see what is important to her, but these days, is it really so different?  As horrible as it is, it's understandable..even to me.  Because it's clear that we still live in a world where a woman's livelihood is sometimes only as good as the man to whom she is married.  And a woman without that, with no prospect, herself, of marrying, is left to rely on her children's fortunes. 

And then I ask myself...which is the bigger horror:  the fact that it exists or the fact that I can understand it?

Watching the captain, realizing the fate, lock himself in the navigation room and "go down with his ship" was interesting.  My first thought was, "he appears to be in shock."  And who wouldn't be, when faced with the reality of impending death? 

And the string quartet continued to play song after song.  One of them said, "No one is listening," and another of them answered, "They never listen at dinner either...yet we play on" and so they played.  And as the ship was about to split, they expressed the honor they felt in playing with each other and went on to their deaths.

It struck the mother's nerve in me to watch the mother with her two children who had been in third class.  Once the realization hit that they wouldn't get to the upper deck to a lifeboat, she simply tucked her children into bed, and our last view of them is her singing to them as they drift off to sleep.  She knew they had virtually no chance to survive, so she simply calmed her children as best she could. 

And Cal...I really grew to dislike him all the way throughout the movie.  But it was so interesting.  I found myself wondering when he still went back to the ship's interior to "fight" for his bride-to-be what he was fighting for?  Ah...the diamond that had been in the pocket of the coat on Rose.  Was that what he was going back after?  Or did he love her in his sick twisted way and it hurt him knowing she didn't prefer him?  And even at the end on the rescue ship, when he looked for her and she avoided him.  Was he looking for her only to be able to retrieve the diamond?  Or would he have honored the engagement and married her after all? 

And then...the self-preservation...that basest of human instincts, to protect ourselves from harm, to survive, to not die...so crazy to watch.  I can understand where some of the people are coming from in that they don't want to turn back and see if anyone else needed to be saved because they simply wanted to be rescued and didn't want to endanger that possibility.  But at the same time, I was horrified to realize they couldn't care less about all those people freezing to death out in the ocean. 

Titanic sank in 1912. 

It's 2012. 

Are we simply the same society with more sophisticated ways of behaving like self-serving jerks, with less than life-threatening consequences?

What do you think?

April 9, 2012

Monday Mumbles - 24


It's Monday.  Again.  Annoying as that may be, I'm gonna Mumble today.

1.  Kids are on spring break this week.  Yay for them!

2.  I...am NOT on spring break this week.  Boo for me.  :(

3.  That's kind of the way it goes when you elect to take paid-time-off around other holidays in the year.  Oh well.

4.  Sarah still has volleyball practice.  Dani still has soccer practice.  Kids will have a play date or two and an outing with Grandma.  They aren't hurtin'.

5.  If you celebrate Easter, I pray you had a blessed weekend.  We sure did.  The weather was beautiful here.  The girls were able to wear their dresses and the boys looked quite dapper in their matching suits.  :)

6.  I began the third week of Boot Camp this morning.  I find that it is easy enough to get up in the mornings to go to Boot Camp.  Not saying I look forward to it, necessarily, but I'm motivated.  Now, I need to find some motivation on Wednesdays and Fridays and one of the weekend days.  So far, that has not happened since I started Boot Camp.

7.  I've been going to the Weight Watchers at Work meetings for about 6 weeks now.  I was **SO** close to the 5% goal last week.  Sadly, Easter Sunday was not kind as far as food goes.  I'm hoping to at least stay the same this week and really work on that last 0.8 pounds to that first goal the following week.

8.  Thanks for all the comments and support through e-mails from my little episode a week or so ago.  I still have struggled with that post because I wasn't sure what I was trying to accomplish with it.  But I have heard from a few who shared that it was really nice to know someone else felt the way they did at times, so I think I should just count it as a success for whatever that was supposed to look like.

9.  How's that for wishy-washy?

10.  And my Jayhawks made it to the Championship game of the NCAA tournament, but were simply no  match for the powerful Kentucky Wildcats.  Now it's time for Baseball!  Go Royals!!

Do you feel like Mumbling?  Grab the button up there, write up your own and let TOOJE know and she'll probably link you up.  Either way, go visit TOOJE and see what she is mumbling about today...or maybe she's not...I dunno!  Oh well, if she's not she has some KILLER cute kids of whom she probably has some pictures up.

April 3, 2012

I keep thinking I will have time to write something, but it won't sound right anyway with it being one of our most solemn weeks of the (liturgical) year. 

I wish you all a blessed Holy Week.