Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Outfit Finds!

Ok so I had been looking for some outfits to wear for Christmas time and Christmas parties. I had gone to target, looked online at old navy and some other places. A lot of what I saw looked like summer time wear with the dresses and skirts being so short! Even in summer I would never wear them that short but I think it absolutely preposterous for winter time! I am not that big a fan of pants, they are not as comfortable for me because my lower half is well um...shapely. I do wear jeans but I didn't want to wear jeans to Christmas Mass or wear them to any Mass ever again if I can help it. I was almost going to resolve to wear a shorter skirt/dress with leggings and boots but it is suppose to be like 80degrees on Christmas Day here and I don't think it's cold enough to do that. 

So off on the hunt I went determined to find something but knowing I probably wouldn't. Oh yeah we are on a tight budget so looking for things at macys or other department stores like that was out of the question. My mom and I went shopping on Saturday after we had an awesome breakfast at a place that serves gfree waffles and pancakes. We decided to go to sears first because there were a few things we knew we could find there for Christmas gifts. Let me tell you, it was the only store we went to because we found all that we needed there! I am really not trying to make this a sears advertisement but I was pleasantly surprised. Everything we got from Lands End was 50% off! 

So here is what I found for JJ's work Christmas party...

Skirt: Lands End $25
Top: target merona $10
Shoes: not sure where I got them but they are black suede wedges

I probably could have worn a dressier top now that I think about it but I am glad I didn't because most people were not that dressed up. The company owner was in jeans, a buttoned down company shirt and a Steelers Santa hat. I like the skirt length, not too long not short. 

My head is cut off in the pictures because my hair was still wet and crazy. Here is my Christmas Day dress...

Dress: Lands End $40 (really $30 with a coupon we used)

Shoes: navy blue suede wedges same place I got the other ones. 

Earrings: black onyx dangly earrings from 1928 jewelry company.

Can I tell you how in love I am with this dress! We were just about to leave the store and saw it on our way out. Well I actually saw a red dress with polka dots and liked it but knew the shade of red would not go with my skin tone, then my mom pointed out this dress. My mom was so excited about this dress she got it for me as one of my Christmas gifts with the earrings! I can't wait to wear it to midnight Mass and when the family comes over Christmas Day. 

 I will be making Christmas cookies all day today and tomorrow to give out as gifts. I went with this recipe from Paula Deen

I hope you all have a wonderful and blessed Merry Christmas with your family and friends! Praise God for the gift of Jesus our Savior! 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Quick Takes (14) It's been so long!

Remember to go to Jen's for more Quick Takes :) 


We have been incredibly busy this last couple months! I have had clients most days of the week and Saturdays. JJ went back to work and there has been so much work for him :) I am on Creighton vacation until Jan. 3rd. I am still here for my clients if they have questions but I am not doing follow ups or intro. sessions. Well I am having one Skype follow up with a newer client who is almost 3 months postpartum, breast feeding, returned to cycles and is having continuous mucus; this is definitely an emergency follow up situation so we can manage her chart.

We went to a young adult talk a couple of weeks ago as we happened to have a Sat. evening free and this young gentleman we know of shared his story about being gay and Catholic. We originally were not sure if we wanted to go because of our busy schedule but I am glad we went. His perspective was so interesting! Just in case you are wondering he is chaste/celibate. I found myself identifying with him so much, not on the being gay part, but on carrying a cross that not very many people understand and everyone thinks they can "fix" by just doing x, y and z. We invited him over for dinner some time to dialogue more about this subject and how we as Catholics can do a better job at building community with our gay/homosexual brothers and sisters in Christ. 


 I am very much looking forward to making Christmas cookies to give away as gifts to family and friends starting Monday. We are only buying gifts for our parents, each other, the white elephant gift exchange that we do with our family on Christmas Day and my goddaughter. A lot of our savings was wiped out due to JJ being off of work for so long so we can't afford to buy for all those we would like to. Since JJ and I exchange gifts with each other on Jan 6th I am looking forward to those after Christmas sales to get him and my goddaughter some things. I haven't decided what kind of cookies to make everyone. I am willing to try just about any recipe and make it work with the ingredients we can use. Any suggestions??? 


We have been teaching RCIA since September on Sunday mornings which has added to our busy schedule. It has made us grow in so many ways to teach the faith! We have two students that wanted to come to RCIA but couldn't make it on the usual Thursday evenings so we volunteered to teach them. One is a man the other is a woman, we are going to be sponsors/godparents to the woman and our friends will be the sponsor of the man. They are both awesome people and we are so excited for their faith journey. One of our first discussions in class was about the difference in culpability between Dr. Kevorkian and a fast food worker who serves obese patrons. Needless to say it has been interesting and a good challenge to teach the class. Please keep our students in your prayers! The woman, J's story of how she came to the faith is so amazing because her religious background in non practicing Buddhist. I love when God just grabs people like that! 


JJ and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary on Sunday! I was so sick that we didn't get to do what we had planned :( So we altered our plans and just went to Mass and then ate at P.F. Chang's since it is more local than the BBQ place we wanted to go and ended the day by watching Sunday night football then Once Upon A Time. We still plan on going to the BBQ place but we will probably go for our 8 year anniversary of being together on Jan. 6th. So we have been celebrating our anniversary a little each day this week, which has been nice. JJ got me flannel pajamas that I get to pick out myself which we haven't done because of our crazy schedule. We also haven't seen the new Hobbit movie yet which we want to do some time this weekend, not sure when hopefully tonight or Sat. night. The best part is that the movie will be free because we got movie tickets as a gift from our RCIA student J :) 


Two of my friends gave birth this week. One of them I took two meals to this week the other I was going to call and see if I can take a meal next week but then I realized its CHRISTMAS next week so I am not sure if that will work. There is still a lit bit of that sting of "wow how is this so easy for some people and so hard for us?!" For the most part this Advent and holiday time hasn't been that bad regarding infertility. I really think it is God's grace that is allowing me not to stop and wallow in it too much plus focusing on our anniversary has helped.

 Sometimes I think about how Cecilia would be 15 months and probably a handful around the Christmas tree. During those times I ask God to help me not take this life for granted and to love my husband even more. My goddaughter helped me to decorate the tree a little bit yesterday which was such a blessing, what a gift that 2.5yr old is. She is getting into the defiant stage and asking "why" about almost everything but she teaches me patience and love. She said "Merry Christmas" and "I love you nina" before she left and 


I started with spiritual direction this week! It almost didn't happen because Fr. was at the school and I waited in th office for over 1/2 hour. He texted me later that if I had time he was back at the office. I almost didn't go because I was just about to give up on spiritual direction all together because of all the times I have been turned down by priests to give me spiritual direction. In case you didn't know this is my 7th attempt in the last 10yrs. to get spiritual direction, that is just with priests I have tried with nuns and trained lay people too before. I have figured I need a priest or a nun, it's just too difficult for me with a lay person from the diocese. 

After my brief wallow in self pity that Fr. forgot about our appt. and that I can't find a spiritual director I decided to meet with Fr. when he text me he was back in the office. I am so glad I decided to go because it was so good albeit challenging to open myself up for spiritual counsel. Fr. warned me not to have too much of an agenda or ask God too many questions when I pray. He said that "the right questions will usually spring forth from prayer and they may be very different than what you were thinking of."  So the plan is to pray about adoption and foster care but to open it up to whatever God wants to do with it. My first plan from him is to finish my Christmas novena, then we will all pray a novena to the Holy Spirit (me, JJ and Padre). After that Fr. is going to give me some scriptures to focus on and pray Lectio Divina with and then we will go from there. I love the way Padre put his role, as a prayer companion with me and a springboard to bounce off some things that come up in prayer. We met for about an hour and JJ was so happy that I finally go to go. I will be saying some extra prayers for Padre as I know he is a busy priest and I am so thankful he is going to help me sort through the spiritual aspect of IF and adoption/foster care. 


Well I ran out of stuff to talk about so I will leave you with some pictures of our tree and decorations that we have put up so far. Not much I know, but we still have until the whole Christmas season to put more stuff up! I am also looking for a Christmas outfit and will probably post my top pics Sunday or Monday. If you have any great leads let me know I am going shopping tomorrow. I was hoping to find something for JJ's work Christmas party on Sunday. Now I am going to relax, drink something warm and watch It's A Wonderful Life on tv after my 3 hour follow up!  Enjoy your weekend everyone! 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Letting Go and A Close Call...

I remember when I was a kid and we had to give our dog up because where we were moving did not allow dogs. I was about 10 or 11 yrs. old and we had the dog ever since I was 3 or 4 so to me I had known the dog my whole life. I was sad but I knew we couldn't take her, I was actually angry at first because my mom was choosing for us to move even though we didn't have to. I can recall crying the day we had to take her to the humane society and my brother and I consoling each other over losing "Baby". Yes our dog's name was "Baby", how ironic huh?!   It was actually a good thing that we moved because my brother and I got to go to a better high school than we would have gone to and we were moving to a safer neighborhood. Though all this good came from an unfortunate circumstance I had a hard time letting go of our dog. I thought I saw her on the street a couple of times and I missed having to feed her as she was jumping all over me. I even missed when she snapped at me because she was PMSing, yup our dog had PMS and was a feisty one! I remember feeling really alone because I would talk to "Baby" and cuddle her when I was scared. My brother and I took on an us against mom stance that helped me to feel not so alone like we were in this together. Sorry mom! That was short lived as I could imagine myself being rebellious and hurting my mom, I cried anytime I broke a dish as a kid because I didn't want to disappoint her. We eventually moved on and understood why we could not have Baby in our lives anymore. It took awhile to let go of that old life and embrace a different life. 

Lately I have had a hard time letting go with regards to our decision to stop pursuing biological parenthoodthrough medical treatment. It's not that I don't feel our decision was right because I still have peace about it. There are times when I think "well maybe one cycle of" or "maybe another cycle of fem.ara" but then I remember all the crazy it brings for me and know that God is guiding us a different way right now. I want to know what God is going to do just like I wanted to know what the future held for me as a child when we moved and had to give up our dog. I am a melancholic it is hard for me to adapt to change most of the time so adapting to not having cycle reviews and taking so much supplements and meds is difficult because it switches up the routine. Don't get me wrong it is awesome to not have to be so scheduled with regards to my cycles days! Hopefully there will be a day when I don't have to chart at all and not have to take progesterone, hopefully. There is a supplement my NaPro Dr. started me on to see if it helps me with PCOS in general and if my body responds to it I may not need to take post peak progesterone anymore which would eliminate the need for charting! That is the main thing we are working with from our NaPro Dr., overall long term management for PCOS. 

 The difficulty has been in the letting go of a dream that you held so dear to your heart for so long in exchange for another but you have no idea what that other dream is yet. It is the saying goodbye to one way of becoming a parent and not knowing if God is calling you to become a parent through adoption or foster care. Yup, the difficulty is in the unknowing. I wish I could fast forward 10yrs. from now and see where we are at with all of this, have we gotten past this child business or are we at the same place. Realistically I know we will not be at the same place exactly but will we still be childless? No one can answer that but only time will tell...oh time, that wretched beautiful thing. 

I have been hiding in the cloister of my heart lately and not really blogging or reading blogs too much as I am processing our decision. I am hopefully going to see a priest for some spiritual direction in the coming weeks because I need it. I have been so lost in my prayer time and my discernment feels stuck and stagnant with regards to the pursuit of adoption or foster care. I have been working on living in and enjoying the present moment with JJ (Side note: He went back to work for the same company he left in the summer to try and find work but it just so happens that when his number was called at the union hall it was for that company because they are now having some steady work. I pray it stays steady!) I want to be an amazing wife, daughter, godmother, sister, friend, practitioner and woman! If physical motherhood happens to be a part of that then so be it if not I resign myself to the will of God.

 I emailed a friend, well more like a sister, that I feel that the world needs love and not just any love but the love that only God can give through us. In order to give this love we must allow the transformative love of God to work in us which is not always easy, it hurts and it's humbling but it has this mysterious beauty that literally warms our heart. There are times where I really feel like my heart is overflowing with this powerful and overwhelming Love and all I can do is allow this Love to change me. I fail miserably at this on a daily basis but the awesome thing about this Love is that it pushes you to do better and you realize that this Love can only come from God because of our fallen humanity. 

There are so many people and children who do not experience this Love and those of us who have must share it. This is why I thought we would be called to adoption or foster care. Then I found us further away from adoption because of costs and we are still hesitant toward foster care but open to looking into it. So I started to resolve myself to our life as just the two of us, then some exciting events happened last week! Ok y'all, we could've brought home a baby girl last week! What you say, how'd this happen?! Well let me explain...

A woman who I met at our support group awhile back shared her story with us of IF and adoption, she has four beautiful adopted children. She sent me a message on the book of faces last week saying her agency had called her to see if she knew of a couple willing to adopt a baby girl who was born that morning. I learned that if we were interested we could be doing our home study while having custody of the baby as the birth parents wanted to sign over their custody as soon as possible. JJ and I decided to go for it, so I called the mediators/agency founders. Well it turns out I called the wrong number on accident which is why I didn't hear back from anyone, so I called later that day and found out it was the wrong number. The baby was matched with a couple from Georgia who took a red eye flight that very evening, praise God. They said if anything falls through with them we would be next in line. It was such a crazy day and half! Clearly this child was not meant for us but it got us thinking that may be we are not as through with considering adoption as we thought we were. I was not to disappointed because I was happy this sweet baby girl had a place to go. 

This situation excited something in us that we haven't felt in a long time! I have no idea what this all means but I want to find out, hence the need for spiritual direction. Our lives could've changed in an instant, I kept thinking "we don't have a crib, diapers or any baby essentials! Are we ready for this? Am I ready to be a mother?" With biological parenthood you have that time of pregnancy to prepare, with adoption you don't know how long you have. Are we ready for the ride that adoption can take us on? I don't know. I got to talk to the friend who sent us the message about the baby and I got more excited about the prospect of adoption. She said the founders of the agency want to talk to us because now we are "on their radar" and they may have another birth mother situation we may be interested in. I have not called them yet because I am approaching with caution. I think I may call them today or tomorrow just to get to know them and their agency. 

Please pray for us in this discernment! I know parenthood is not easy whether biological or adoptive and I am not walking into this blindly. A reason why I feel like we are called to adoption is because I feel that I could love and nurture a child whether they are biological or not. I get an excitement in my heart about adoption that I just don't get when I talk to my NaPro Dr. about treatments we could try for biological parenthood. I am not closing the door on biological parenthood because God can always perform miracles I am just trying to move on from the fact that it may be highly unlikely for us. Some people think this is a giving up of hope but it's not, because in reality not everyone gets to be parents biologically. I have even questioned whether or not I really want to pursue parenthood at all and just give of myself to being a practitioner and maybe midwifery, again hence the need for spiritual direction. 

So that's all that's going on around here just a lot of discernment, unknowing and little bit of excitement, ok a lot of excitement :) 

*When I speak of being a parent or a mother, I know I already am because of Cecilia. I am speaking more of the practical day in and day outs of parenthood/motherhood. Don't worry, I remember the dignity of the life of our sweet little one we lost. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

You Don't Have A Microwave?!

Friends and family are always surprised when they come over for a potluck or to hang out and discover that we don't have a microwave to heat food up fast. We have gotten some pretty weird stares as friends want to heat up their coffee and I point them to the stove and a pot. I have had people offer to give us old microwaves or even buy us a cheap one, we always politely decline. In my family I was about 9 or 10yrs. old when we got a microwave and we had one ever since. JJ's family never had a microwave growing up nor did he have a tv for most of the time he was a kid. 

The interesting story with the tv which is quite famous in JJ's family is that my in laws were having a "discussion" and my mother in law was tired of said discussion so she went to watch some tv. Well my father in law didn't appreciate that and continued the discussion and my MIL decided to turn the volume up on the tv. If you knew my FIL you would know that he can react hastily at times so he decided to take the tv and throw it out the back door! It is so funny hearing JJ and my SIL recount the story of how it played in slow motion and the tv rolled all the way across the back yard and busted along the way. From then on my FIL didn't allow a tv in the house, we actually gave them our old tv a few years ago so they can watch movies though. 

 I don't know if we are even against having a microwave for health reasons which is what it seemed at first or if we are just trying to go against the grain. The more I think about it though, I think we like not having a quick fix to prepare our food. I think not having a microwave is just another way we like to live out a slower paced life. Think about it y'all! What does a microwave represent? Convenience, easy, fast paced, instant gratification, I need this food item cooked pronto, etc. Now I am not saying that we all need to toss our microwaves, dishwashers and coffee makers in the trash; interestingly enough we don't have any of these items. What I am saying is that we should all be trying to find ways to slow our lives down. Running from here and there and throwing food in the microwave then scarfing it down not really tasting what you are eating is not something that should be done on a regular basis. I understand that there are some days that will be like this but this should be the exception not the rule. 

Not having a microwave forces us to slow down, we reheat our leftovers on the stove top and we make our popcorn in a pan with some oil. It may sound old fashioned but it suits the kind of lifestyle we wish to have. We want a slower paced lifestyle where meals are actually worked for and are enjoyable together. There are somedays that I wish we had a microwave but those days remind me to ask myself if I am taking on too much. If I don't even have time to prepare and eat my food that is my clue that I need to slow it down. I love food and preparing it too, I understand not everybody loves to prepare food but I think we can all agree that we like eating it and food from the microwave is never as tasty as stovetop food. 

But Kat I like my fast paced life, why should I slow it down? Well I think that we have more time for silence and listening to the promptings of God when we take the time to do everyday things. We have time to pray through preparing a meal and offer up our frustrations about our busy lives. We can take the time to pray for those we are preparing the meal for, praying for our farmers who work hard and pray that the food be nourishing to our bodies. Also, you eat a lot healthier when you aren't just microwaving frozen foods. Now I understand that this is not always easy to do especially for those who have children because sometimes you are just thankful to get lunch on the table without a big hassle because your kid(s) are hungry ASAP and sometimes on CD1 I feel so sick that I throw chicken nuggets in the oven and I am thankful I am at least eating something. 

Having a slower paced life and not having some modern conveniences really helps me to reflect and truly be present to the ones that are around me and closest to me. I give myself an hour for lunch in between follow ups with clients so that I make sure I have time to prepare/eat my food. Sometimes I eat pretty quickly or my food doesn't have much prep. work so I take the rest of that time to check in w/ JJ or prepare for my next appointment. I also try not to schedule appts. during my usual meal times so that my body isn't thrown off too much, having hypoglycemia really helps me to make this a priority. I think being able to take our time and reflect more in our every day lives allows us to be more thoughtful, kind and loving human beings. What are some ways that you like to slow down your lives from time to time? 

*This post was not meant to make anyone feel bad about their eating choices or to persuade anyone to get rid of their microwave. It is meant to challenge us to slow things down from time to time and actually enjoy the little everyday things like preparing food and eating. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Getting Back on Track

Ok, so there have been a few things in my normal routine that I have slipped up in lately. One of them is my prayer time. I usually pray in the afternoon between 2-4pm for about 45min. I go to the church and sit in there or I go to the small chapel in the rectory offices. I don't like going into the adoration chapel because there is always someone there and I prefer to be left alone, literally, when I pray. I am also easily distracted so if people are coming in and out of the chapel I will look and wander in my thoughts. I am pretty persnickety about my prayer time because I love the solitude! I even get a little annoyed sometimes if JJ comes to the rectory chapel with me, which makes me think we missed our calling as cave hermits. I know I won't always be able to go to the church for my prayer time so I also need to work on creating a space in our house that I feel comfortable praying in. 

Another thing that I have slipped up in is my exercise routine, womp womp. I haven't been in a good work out routine since before my surgery back in April. I love the work out dvd that I was doing but I just haven't gotten back into it. I just need to suck it up, stop being lazy and put the dvd in and get to workin'! I noticed yesterday as my goddaughter and I were on are usual walk around the neighborhood and we were jumping and running and I noticed I got tired easily. I also need to strengthen my core so my lower back problems don't become an issue again. I really wish this could be my workout...



I have also been trying to work on my make-up skills. I am not one to wear a ton of make-up but I have been wanting to try and take care of my appearance. I am not saying I am going to get all dolled up everyday but I do want to look attractive, not for attention but for myself. I feel better when I do my hair and make-up instead of just tossing my hair up and thinking I don't have time.

I have had too much cane sugar lately and I know it. My hypoglycemic reactions have been making their subtle appearance it also doesn't help that I have been skipping my mid morning snack. I would love to not have to pay attention to what I eat but for my overall health I know it's important. I need to make sure that I eat on time so I am trying to do meal plans for the week. 

Working on my marriage has been at the forefront of my mind and actions. I have been trying to make sure I let JJ know that he is a priority especially as he is not working again. This economy sucks as well as the lack of union jobs! The company that he went to work for on Oct. 1st only needed him for 3weeks so back to the hall he went after that. It is so hard for him to go to the hall everyday and not get work, so I am trying be supportive in whatever way I can be. I likened JJ not getting work even though he is trying to me always getting a negative pg test no matter how awesome my cycle looked. I have a tendency to be attached to my phone and iPad so I am trying to spend less time on them when JJ and I are having our time, we also don't keep them in our room at night. I am finding that I sleep better with out the electronics in our room. I deleted the game candy crush from our game apps because JJ did not like me playing it and I understood why because I was getting obsessed and addicted. I have been praying for JJ more on a daily basis as I am doing work around the house so that I remember he needs prayer too. 

So those are some things I am working on around here and this is the week to do it! This week I am going to start getting back on track in all of these areas. I'll let y'all know how it goes! What are you working on? 


Sunday, October 27, 2013

The SPICE of Life

Last weekend JJ and I gave a talk at our married peoples fellowship group (we so need a new name for this group,seriously). We talked about something I am familiar with as a CrMS user and practitioner, the element of SPICE and the index a practitioner gives you at follow ups. JJ and I didn't give this talk because we are experts in this subject we gave it because we have learned a lot about this through trial and error. It was the SPICE index and discussing this stuff in and out of our follow ups that helped us to see there were areas that needed to grow in our marriage. We always pursue growth and to strengthen our marriage but when we were faced with those 1st years of IF we needed this. So here is the talk that JJ and I compiled: 

What are ways to SPICE up your marriage? No this does not include 50 shades of grey or anything outlandish! 

What is the difference between gc and sc? There is a difference between genital contact and sexual contact. Sexual contact includes the entire person where genital contact is just physical. We need to be connected to our spouse in more than just the physical way. This includes SPICE! 

What is SPICE? SPICE stands for...

SPIRITUAL, ex: prayer both together and personal, rosary, Mass, spontaneous prayer, organized prayers, before bed prayer, etc.

PHYSICAL, ex: the obvious sex, holding hands, back rubs, hugs, cuddling, kissing, exercise together, etc.

INTELLECTUAL, ex: talking of current events, conversations about stuff that interests both of you, reading a book together, playing scrabble, watching jeopardy, etc. 

COMMUNICATIVE/CREATIVE, ex: talking about your day, talking about disagreements, listening and not judging the other, writing love notes or journal entries for each other, learning each other's communication style and temperament, etc. 

EMOTIONAL, ex: saying/texting "I love you", remembering why you chose to marry this person, showing mercy and compassion even when you don't feel like it, affirming each other with words and letting each other know you have each other's back, etc. 

The particular elements of SPICE are different for each couple because each couple connects with one another in a unique way. So there is no one SPICE model for everyone. Everyone connects with their spouse on the SPICE levels that are different from how they connect to others who are not their spouse, for ex. JJ and I love C.S Lewis and Tolkein so our Intellectual time might be taken up by reading or talking about their books so our intellectual bond as spouses is much stronger than if we were talking to other people about Lewis or Tolkein. 

Everyone can have SPICE it is not just set apart for those holy perfect marriages just like God is not set apart just for those perfect people. Every marriage is unique and different the only thing that is common across the board is that our spouses are our vocations in which we are sanctified and our pathways to heaven. We must not judge another's marriage based on what we see, because no one really knows the intimate details of someone else's marriage. The grass is NOT greener on the other side! 

Being connected to your spouse can sometimes feel like a lot of work and it is not always fun, it can be a cross, but it's our cross. SPICE IS ESSENTIAL TO YOUR MARRIAGE! We can not just put our marriage on the back burner or at the end of a to do list because that is when we end up waking up not knowing who we are married to. Whether or not you get to spend hours with one another a day or an hour at most or a few minutes you must still strive to be connected to your spouse. If you don't you will connect yourself to something/someone else like friends, the internet, smartphones, video games/apps or your children. These things which are not bad in themselves can be used by the enemy to pull us away from our spouse. Preferring spending time with your children and not your spouse is a dangerous line to putting them first before your marriage on a regular basis and one or both spouses can feel neglected. I am not saying to ignore your children but to constantly put them first and if they are not a newborn that needs constant attention then we must internally check ourselves to see if we are doing something wrong.

This will be a continual work in progress, you will never have it down perfect but you can get to a point where you and your spouse feel connected and quickly notice when you are not and which areas you need to work on. You may be strong in some areas and weak in others or you maybe coasting along in all areas. 

Starting to explore where your marriage is can be a scary and humiliating place but we must remember that God gave us the grace of the sacrament to see us through. Pride is a huge road block to developing SPICE in your marriage as well as complacency. Different hardships in life and in our marriages test us and the enemy tries to pull us apart because he hates us. Giving into tendencies of bitterness, complaining, nagging, yelling, cold shouldering/silence, criticizing  and other negative actions toward our spouse can keep us from seeing the good in them as well as wanting to be connected to them. Sometimes we must take an honest look at ourselves and get our behind to confession for sins we have committed against our spouse. We are not perfect and neither is our spouse so saying "I am sorry" and "I forgive you" are key to staying connected to our spouse. When we go to confession God wipes away our sins and we are in instant union with Him again, so it goes with reconciling with our spouse. 

A simple way to start adding SPICE elements to your marriage is to take 5-10min. a week and at first sit down with your spouse and each of you come up with 2 ways to enhance each SPICE category in your marriage. Then once a week take turns in picking which one you want or feel you need to work on and pick from the list your wrote together. It may not be easy and it may be awkward at first but it can help strengthen your marriage! 

We didnt want to give examples of specific things in our own marriage because JJ felt that it was important for each couple to explore this topic with each other and so that we didn't seem like we had it all figured out. Since this is my blog I will share how SPICE has helped me. When we first got married I had a difficult time understanding the different forms of physical communication between the spouses. In general I didn't understand the subtle differences between affirming and arousing touch but I didn't know what it was. So every time JJ would do certain things when we were in a time of abstaining I would be confused and I would push him away then we would end up in an argument. We tried to communicate but I wasn't quite sure what was bothering me. When we took the SPICE index about 2yrs or so after we were married, a light bulb went off and I finally understood my confusion. I needed it spelled out for me and now that area of our marriage is a little easier to navigate. 

Another way SPICE has helped my marriage is when we had the miscarriage. I was so broken and grieving I felt very alone. When we found out we were pregnant I felt a new and special bond w/ JJ because we were parents and we were gonna raise a child together. Then when we lost the baby I thought that this new bond was gone and I didn't feel very connected to JJ like I had before. I started to internalize more and share less with him which made me feel even more alone. It took a serious "conversation" (argument) and me pulling out a SPICE index from my file cabinet to get me to open up to my husband. Again, I am a person who sometimes needs it to be spelled out and reflect on things before I know what is going on. We started to work more on our different SPICE elements which helped me to feel more connected and bonded to JJ. Having SPICE In our marriage does bond us closer together which in turn makes me feel more secure in our marriage knowing that come what may, we will face it together. 

* A note to those who are single: I think SPICE can be implemented in the single life as well, although each element will be to different degrees. Working on being connected to others will only help you as you are in this time of waiting. Obviously the fulfillment of SPICE will happen in marriage but you can use this as a tool to see how connected you are to God as well. If you take the time to learn some of these things now, it will prepare you for your spouse if that is what God is calling you to. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

I don't Wanna be That Woman...

You know the one, the woman who is holding onto something so tightly that she can't hold onto anything else. The one who is not seeing what is right in front of her when everybody else sees it. The woman who tries endless cycles and what seems like endless years to get pregnant with no results. The woman who loses focus and takes her life and marriage for granted because all she is seeing is physical motherhood. The woman who starts to blame her husband and hold resentment toward her broken body. The woman who keeps thinking that the next cycle could be it after 10+years of fertility treatments and medications. The woman who has allowed herself to make children an idol. The woman who is bitter and feels entitled for people to feel sorry for her situation. The woman who can't bring herself to be around pregnant women because she so badly wants to be them. The woman who wants to be someone else. The woman who loses her faith because of infertility. Yeah, you know that woman I don't wanna be her. 

Truth is I have been many of these descriptions at some point in this journey. Infertility can make you the ugliest version of yourself, if you let it. I am not judging anyone who is in any of the above situations because again, I have probably been there and thought those thoughts. I just don't wanna be any of these anymore. I don't want to "try" anymore to get pregnant. Now obviously every time JJ and I, uhumm well you know, during the fertile time we are trying to get pregnant. The reality is that with PCOS it is a slim chance that I will get pregnant on an umedicated cycle so when I mean "trying" I mean using medication to help me ovulate. 

We decided to end our 6month TTC plan early, as early as this next upcoming cycle which should start in another week or so. No medication or mucus enhancers just post peak progesterone to help with PMS and keep my progesterone at good levels. Why are we ending early? Well because we would like to start our life post TTC already. I told JJ that I just want to work on being his wife and that is good enough for me because that is what God is giving me. We always leave a door open for God if He wants us to start medical treatment again and we have been talking about foster care but that would not be anytime soon. I just want to fall more in love with God and my husband 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Five Faves (Vol. 1)

  Visit Moxie Wife for more Five Favorites

1. Baking, baking and more baking! Here is an apple crisp I made for JJ's birthday a few weeks ago. I have also been making a lot of pumpkin stuff, yup I am on the pumpkin bandwagon and loving it!

2. Spending time with my goddaughter on Monday mornings! I would put a picture but I am sure my friend T is not comfortable with that. All I have to say is that she is such a cute 2yr. old who loves to take walks. When we walk by the church she points and says "Jesus" and she always wants to go in and say hi to "baby Jesus" and "mama Mary," be still my heart! 

3. This Smash journal! Hallie had featured it as part of her 5 Faves a couple weeks ago and I ordered it with a gift card I had gotten for my birthday from JoAnn's. Here is my first page of smashing...I love St. Therese! The video is just something that makes you happy and inspires you, ya know?


4. These flowers St. Therese gave me through my mom. Our intention for the novena this year was for God to answer our most neediest need and He did. JJ went back to work as of yesterday, her feast day! Thank you Jesus and St. Therese's intercession! 

5. This Physician' Formula mascara has been great to just throw on and give my eyes some pop. I naturally have longer lashes and this has been nice to throw on w/ some concealer, a little shadow and some lip balm then poof I am done. I am not naturally a make-up wearer but I really love this mascara! 

What are some of your faves right now?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

John 12:24

We all don't like to get unsolicited advice from people especially if we just spent time pouring our heart out to them. While I was in Alabama I asked for some advice from a woman named G who has been married about 20yrs. and they were never able to have children of their own. They got married when they were in their early forties and knew that they might not have children, even knowing this they were still disappointed. I asked her "how do you do it? How do you live or start to live your life knowing that children won't be a part of it the way you had hoped?" G explained to me that she didn't get too wrapped up in the disappointment or TTC she just lived her life with her husband. She said she poured her maternal instincts into her nieces, nephews, godchildren and children that God put before her to take care of. They never looked into foster care or adoption because it didn't really cross their mind. G told me to not give up hope that I will be a mother to a child here on earth someday and that it's all in God's hands and His timing. G told me to love my goddaughter and get to know her more, to pour my maternal instincts into loving her. Overall I left the conversation with G feeling very blessed and refreshed in hope!

Another scenario that happened while I was in AL was a woman who I have known since I was a teenager showed me a picture of someone I had gone to youth group with, in the picture she was holding her healthy baby that looked about 6months old. This woman knows our struggle very well and I asked why she was showing me this picture especially since the woman in the picture was not really a friend. She asked if I knew that the Drs. told the mother that the baby was not developing properly and would need surgery upon delivery if the baby had survived. She said they had a lot of people praying for the baby and when the baby was born she was fine, no surgery needed. I said I had known the story, puzzled the woman asked if something was wrong. Due to my post peak PMS bravery I told her that it is so hard sometimes to see pictures and hear stories of "miracle" babies when we don't know if that will ever happen for us. We don't know if God is promising us children now or in the future, that is what we are trying to discern. She seemed taken aback by my honesty and still confused as to why I would not find this story comforting. Believe me I am happy for this woman and that her baby is healthy but I left this conversation feeling like I was broken.

I don't want people to walk on eggshells around me because of IF but I do want to inform people that IF is no easy road where it is just peaches and sunshine as you wait and trust in God. The encouragement that they are trying to give you can call attention to the wound when you were not even thinking about it or leave you feeling like you are not doing enough. IF is a fight, a wrestling, a struggle, an inner war and an uphill battle as you try and make sense of the situation and then on top of that to try to follow God's will. You can't just wish or pray your IF away, which is super frustrating because believe me I have tried! Even if a beautiful healthy pregnancy occurs or an adoption takes place it does not magically make you "fixed" now or give you joy. Will you be happy? Of course, but it will not erase the pain that you endured and could still endure from the years of IF and/or miscarriage.

Now I have heard these lines of encouragement from people many times before "it's all in God's timing" or "its not God's will yet" or"you should relax and go on vacation, that's when it will happen" or "it will happen for you I just know it" and it would always frustrate me because I thought that the person didn't understand what I was trying to say, they didn't understand the pain and hurt I was in. So I would always brush off their advice or words of "encouragement" I would especially brush them off if they had children and had not gone through IF or miscarriage. It is very easy to dismiss those who "just don't understand." A lot of the times I would hold bitterness in my heart about their comments and warn myself never to share our struggles with those people again. It is very easy to turn inward and become bitter from IF and miscarriage.

Oh miscarriage, and I feel like my life changed forever the day that I started to miscarry. I no longer looked at our journey with a wave of hope, instead I saw a wave of disappointment that would continue for quite some time. I turned inward and started to guard my heart even closer, closing myself off from forming new or closer bonds with friends w/children or staying away from babies as much as possible. Part of this was a natural part of grief and part of it was self-pity. I turned inward in grief only revealing my true feelings to God alone, I barely started sharing some of these details with JJ. Then while in AL God gave me a glorious opportunity to share my heart with my husband. I let him in on the pain I experienced last year, he knew most of it but there was still stuff I was holding back. God convicted me while I was in AL of self-pity and many other things. It was such a wonderful release to lay it all down with Jesus and allow Him to start to heal those wounds from losing Cecilia. God did a wonderful thing to start to heal my motherly heart that was in so much pain.

I started to feel guilty about all the thoughts and feelings I had last year and then I realized that it was all part of a necessary process. It was all part of the process of grief. The day we were leaving for AL we got to have a private Mass in our Carmelite friars private chapel w/ one of the priests that was going with us. The Mass was at 3:30am as we had to be at the airport by 5am, so God gave us the grace to wake up for it. It was such a beautiful Mass and my Carmelite heart was so happy! This line from the gospel for that morning was very poignant for me and it kind of became my theme for the trip:

"Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit." John 12:24

It's kind of cryptic I know, but it really stood out to me, unless I die I will not produce fruit. Does that mean physically die? What do I need to give up? This got me thinking and journaling about this gospel verse. During one of my holy hours in AL I let my mind wonder on this subject...

I certainly felt like I died last year when we miscarried and JJ had his horrible accident at work. I felt like God was stripping everything that I loved away and I felt like death was ever before me. As a melancholic I think I am going to die all the time or the people I love most will. The gloomy outlook is something I am used to dealing with but last year was something different, death became really real. I always knew that my family, friends and I would die someday but suddenly my life became a real journey toward one end, heaven. To get to heaven we must die. Sorry to make this post so morbid it gets better I promise!

I started to think of this pang that I feel in my heart from IF and losing Cecilia. It gets better where you don't always think about it but it is still there always, like chronic pain you learn to live with. Then I thought this is kind of like the stigmata that some of the saints had. Now I am not comparing myself to some great saint but it reminded me that those saints had this special painful thing about them that kept them in constant union with Christ and His sufferings. This pain allowed them to constantly remember that their ultimate goal was Heaven and their life was naturally ordered toward Christ.

Then I realized that I would rather go to Heaven than have children. Not that children are evil or anything like that but that I need to NOT make children an idol before God. I need to stop turning inward and start turning outward toward others especially JJ. I need to not hold back love from humanity by saving it for my children that are not even here yet or my child who is not here on earth. I need to open up my heart more to those around me, keeping some boundaries obviously. I need to not just brush off people who are fertile or don't understand me. I need to not think my pain and cross are bigger and heavier than everybody else's. I need to realize that infertility and PCOS are just medical diagnoses I have, they are NOT who I am. All in all I just need to get over myself! This is not to say that I will be happy go lucky and the ever optimist, that's just not me or that the pains of IF will not effect me anymore. It is to say that I don't want to just remain a "grain of wheat" anymore I want God to take me to places I never thought possible. I am ready to bear some fruit  ;)

I will leave you with a song that has been my theme song this summer. It is kind of long but well worth the listen.  

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

General Update (No, I couldn't think of a better title)

So here is my attempt as I have some time between the laundry and making *home made coffee ice cream to update y'all on what has been going on around the Crow's Nest. JJ got some work for a couple weeks which was great but that ran out so he is back at the hall again. Hopefully he will get more permanent work soon, I really have no idea when that will be. I have been cutting back on things in the budget and learning how to do stuff for free or cheap like making sunflower seed butter at home instead of paying $5 for a 12 oz. jar in the store or trimming my own hair and adding layers by watching videos online. I will soon experiment with making my own laundry detergent and cutting JJ's hair (I am more scared about cutting his hair than my own). I have also been finding yummy paleo and grain free vegetarian recipes online and everything has come out good so far. So I have been pretty domestic lately which I have always loved and it is a fun challenge to live healthy on a budget!

I do have one dilemma and it sounds so superficial but I need new clothes. I have been losing weight and have gone down two sizes in the last 6 months. I haven't even been trying, I know I know cry me a river, but I do need to get back into working out. I have not done a good workout since before my surgery, it has been so hot around here that I have still been sweating it off but my muscle is fading. Anyway back to the clothes situation, a lot of my clothes are baggy now and the ones that aren't I just use over and over or they are for the colder weather. My mom told me I looked sloppy the other day as I told her my jeans were too big. She said that they didn't look too big and then I lifted my shirt so she could see that my backside was what was holding up my jeans and that I had a few inches gap between my belly and the jeans. I didn't ask her to buy me jeans as she had bought me some bras earlier that day. I am getting rid of a good amount of clothes from a couple of years ago where I was about 2-3 sizes bigger. I was holding onto some of them as "just in case I get pregnant clothes" but I really feel it is time for me to let them go.

So you are probably thinking, Kat just go to a thrift store and get some clothes on the cheap. Well here is the thing I don't mind buying clothes from a thrift shop as long as I wash them thoroughly, JJ on the other hand thinks its gross and does not want me to buy used clothes. Plus it is hard to find any clothes let alone at a thrift shop for a petite pear shaped gal. I really don't think I can justify spending any money outside the budget especially for clothes. Maybe I will just take JJ to the thrift shop and show him that it is not gross.

We will be teaching RCIA this year to one student who is a friend of a friend and she has an amazing story of why she wants to become Catholic. She was in the Army and visited the Vatican and she had a desire to become Catholic. She was not baptized or raised in any religion though her family is buddhist. I am so excited to teach her about the Faith and grow in my faith as well! We met with her a couple time and she is so solid as a person and really wants to be baptized, please keep her in your prayers! So I will be co-teaching w/  JJ on Sundays, volunteering at the convent when they need me, leading the support group and doing CrMS all of the other time. Oh yeah and babysitting my goddaughter Monday mornings! This is going to be a fun year :) 

As far as TTC goes we go back and forth a lot on this issue. I stopped charting the cycle we went to Alabama and it.was.glorious. the only thing was that I didn't know when to take progesterone so I didn't. I had a false pregnancy test when I thought I was late and AF came later that day. This cycle we decided to do the fem.a.ra and AF should be coming by the end of the week, hopefully she doesn't and stays far far away. If she does come we are taking another cycle off from meds. and then we will do clo.mid the cycle after that. Then after that we just don't know, we have said we will stop treatment but I don't know if that is forever or for a little while, God will let us know. We are just taking things cycle by cycle and seeing how we feel. I have discovered that stopping medical treatment is sort of like a weening process. There is so much pressure to keep going especially because we had the surgery, they recommend you try very strictly for 12-18 months after your surgery because the ovaries are more sensitive to the meds. To be quite honest we don't want to do too much meds. in the first place because we are uncomfortable with them. We really are just trying to give it to God and not try and control the situation. I really just want to do God's will!

I will end with a prayer request for a good friend of mine she and her DH are pregnant with their 1st baby. Her Dr. said that her HCG levels dropped a bit so naturally this new mom is scared. I know that you all are some of the strongest prayer warriors I know so please pray! I urged her to rest so I will be taking her dinner tomorrow night so that she doesn't have to cook or lift a finger. Please pray for her peace of mind and for the baby that it may be healthy and strong!


*So I have tried this recipe making it exactly how she does it except substituting 1/4 cup maple syrup instead of regular sugar. It cam out a little icy from the coffee added. So instead I warmed one of the cans of coconut milk in a small saucepan on the stove. Once it was warm I dumped in 1 &1/2 tablespoons of coffee grounds and let that steep for about 10-15 min. I strained it and combined it with the other can of coconut milk and rest of the ingredients. Then I let that mixture chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours before putting it in the ice cream maker. She also has instructions on how to make it w/out an ice cream maker. I also got to make it with decaf coffee since I am sensitive to caffeine :)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Sweet Home Alabama

I figured I would end my silence from the blogging fast with talk about our trip to Alabama in  August. First off, yes we are crazy for agreeing to go there in the middle of August. This Cali girl can not deal with humidity but God was so merciful and gave us beautiful weather. The nice folks in AL kept telling us it was such unusual weather for them and it is usually miserable mid-August. We are now paying for that weather by having the worst heat wave EVER! It was upwards of 108 degrees last week and we had humidity, ugh I hope fall comes soon.

Back to Alabama: Why did we go there? Family? Nope. A desire for the country life? Nope. Wanting to subject ourselves to humidity? Nope. Cracker Barrel? Nope. Ok ok, I'll tell you. We went on pilgrimage to Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament. You know the monastery that Mother Angelica built,  you know the little cloister nun that started EWTN. Yeah that's the one! In all honesty my dear reader even knowing that this place existed did not give us a desire to go there. We have friends who have gone several times and we were always like "what is in Alabama? I'd rather go to Europe or something. This doesn't sound like much of a pilgrimage." When the organizers first asked us we declined, then they asked us again because our friends who would be newly married would be going and wanted someone to share the car and house we rented. Originally we thought that we would be taking a road trip there, which is why we said yes in the first place, haha we were wrong we took a plane but it was still fun. So God roped us into going and I am glad He did!

First off Los Angeles sucks in terms of hospitality, we all know it. We are not big on having a sense of community here in L.A. and people don't really talk to each other on the street but Alabama now that is a whole different story. The people were so welcoming and nice as well as genuine. On top of all that people are not afraid to talk about Jesus or wear their Christian apparel, it is part of the Bible Belt ya know.

We were there for a week and we spent most of our time at the Shrine. It was like a pilgrimage/retreat/vacation all rolled into one. I got in a lot of prayer time and God really spoke to me there. I went to AL w? a lot of questions for God; What are you doing with my life? What do you want? What are our next steps regarding children? Where are you taking me? Will JJ ever work again? Should we move out of L.A. to find JJ work? What is the meaning of life? The last one is a joke, obviously.

 He did not give me answers pursee but He did give me peace and healing. The best part of AL was JJ and I were not "the IF couple" there. We were just us, a married couple on pilgrimage with 36 other pilgrims. It was such a wonderful feeling to forget about our IF even for a little while, more on that to come in a later post. The Mass is so beautiful and reverent there, the cloistered sisters sing at 7am Mass everyday. Everything there is centered on Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and it. is. beautiful. Go to the link above and look at some of the pictures. They have the 2nd largest monstrance in the world, almost 8ft. tall! If y'all ever have the chance to go there you must, we plan on going back.

There are a lot of topics percolating in my brain from our trip and as a result of the blogging fast some deal with IF and some do not. We have made some decisions regarding our TTC journey which I will share later. Oh yeah, I fixed the comments so that you don't have to do the word verification. I know that it can be annoying so I will try it but if I get a lot of spam I will go back to making you prove you are not a robot or spammer. For now here are some pictures from our trip!

The outside of the main Church.

Cool Perspective

Look at that blue sky! This is also their conference area and gift shop. It's a castle!

Love the clouds in JJ's glasses.

The gorgeous house we stayed at!

Goofy Pic

Serious Pic

Me outside in the courtyard.

My favorite pic taken on our last day there. It was cool and windy!


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

From fasting to fasting...

It is no secret that things are getting tense in the world so we here @ The Crow's Nest will be joining the Holy Father Pope Francis in his call for fasting and prayer this Sat. Sept. 7th. Our parish will be having all day adoration so we will be doing a holy hour and fasting for peace! I can't technically fast from food due to the hypoglycemia but I will be doing some form of fasting. I urge y'all to join us, imagine how awesome that will be for everyone to pray for the same intentions all day! 



There is so much that God has been doing in me through this blogging fast. I hope to share it with you all very soon. God has been speaking to me and working on me so much especially when we were in Alabama of which we took some great pictures. God bless you all and let us join in Pope Francis' urging to fast and pray for peace! 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Quick Takes (13) Vacation Bible School, Charting and Fasting

Before I start my Quick Takes I want to say I had the priviledge of meeting this lovely blogger for coffee/tea Thursday afternoon. She happened to be in town and it worked out that we could meet for an hour. It was short but it was worth it. Also thank you to all those who prayed for me during the month of July! Oh an remember to head to Jen's for more Quick Takes :) 


I have been helping out with Vacation Bible School for our parish. I have been running the crafts or better known as the "imagination station" along with a visiting Discalced Carmelite Brother. It has been fun and cheesy but I was surprised at how tiring it has been. I haven't worked with children in over a year and it was fun to do it again but man am I tuckered out after being on my feet for 5hrs. Br. D and I have had fun talking about the awesomeness of the Latin Mass and being sarcastic about the cheesy songs the kids sing. This was my first time helping with VBS and I think I would do it again! The theme this year was standing strong for God and to my surprise seeing the kids grow in their faith has helped me to see some things in my faith journey more clearly. 

A couple of funny hick ups that have happened have been when Br. D said the word "stupid" in front of the kids twice and said something to the effect that the kids were "killing us slowly" because they kept pushing our tables and us against the wall giving us less room to walk around. Then as I was sharing the story of Mary and how young she was when she was pregnant with Jesus one of the kids brought up teen pregnancy and said "some people have babies at 16 still" I think I said "oh ok Z thank you for sharing but we are not talking about that right now and that is not quite the same thing" oh kids, gotta love them they are so honest! 


This week during VBS I realized how much I missed working with teens and working on a collective ministry team. Doing NFP and CrMS stuff it is usually just me and JJ or me and the other practitioner at our parish. I kind of miss a bigger team to bounce ideas off of. The DRE and Confirmation coordinator asked JJ and I if we would teach confirmation this year, we originally declined because of NFP stuff but we are kind of reconsidering. We did let them know we would love to be involved with the teens somehow we are just not sure about committing to a weekly thing. 


Speaking of commitment, my friend T asked if I would be willing to babysit/nanny my goddaughter and her sister two days a week. Naturally I said yes! We just need to work out which days I would do it. This would work out pretty well with my schedule with my clients because I usually see most of them in the afternoon/evening plus I would get to use my child development skills that are just sitting in my brain and not being used. I miss working with young kids but I don't know if I would want to go back to a teaching setting in a center or school so this would be perfect to get my feet wet again. 


Our house is crazy right now! They are painting and fixing some stuff which is great I just wish it was done before we moved here. They have been working on it for a week now, thank God for VBS that is getting me out of the house. I just feel bad for JJ because he has been here at home while the guys are working on the house. I was here with him for 2days last week and I almost went crazy. It's like you are home but you can't really relax, you know!? It is all suppose to be done today and I hope it is!


After much consideration and some tears JJ and I decided that we would stop charting for this cycle. There have been a lot of things that have been frustrating me about charting and medical treatment that we felt it best to take a break at least for this cycle. One of the major things was our Dr. not getting back to us for about a week when we needed a prescription for a time sensitive medication to help ovulation this cycle. Well we missed the window and took it as a sign that we just needed to stop. So as of yesterday we are no longer charting and I am no longer doing my observations. I don't know how long this will be for, if it's just this one cycle or if we are stopping treatment before the end of the year timeline. We trust that God will let us know!


Speaking of stopping stuff, I have felt a pull from God to fast from blogging. So I will not be blogging for the rest of August, maybe longer. I really feel like God wants to spend more time with me and He wants me to continue to write but not in such a public setting. JJ and I talked about it an he agreed that it was a good idea. I will probably still read some of your blogs and comment when I can but overall I need to take a step back. There are a lot of things that JJ and I need to discern and decide about which will be easier to do if I am not blogging. I am overall trying to have less screen time. It is hard because I love this community but I know that this time away will be fruitful! I will be praying for you all and if you need to contact me you can email me :) 


Speaking of prayer JJ and I will be going to Alabama next Saturday! We will be visiting EWTN and the Our Lady of the Angels Monastery for a pilgrimage/vacation. We are so excited to go and we would be honored to pray for your intentions! You can leave a comment with your intentions, send me an email or if we are friends you can send us a message with your intentions. We will be having two awesome priests as our chaplains for the pilgrimage and we are getting to travel with friends! If you live anywhere near the Birmingham area, it would be awesome to have a blogger meet up :) 

                  God bless you all and God reward you! 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Open to Life...

Alright y'all you knew this was coming, I am a little late but in honor of NFP awareness week I wanted to write some post about Natural Family Planning! First off I have to say I dislike the name NFP but I use it because no one has come up with anything better. I would rather use a phrase like fertility awareness or pro-life fertility care or something along those lines. Since there is not a better name for it I will just call it NFP, for now ;)  This lovely blogger Amy wrote a wonderfully wise post on this subject awhile back. Some of my sentiments for the name come from my thoughts about how uncomfortable I am with the way NFP is touted among some circles as the most important Church teaching or every Catholic couple must use NFP at some point in their marriage or you are required to chart some NFP method before you get married. Don't get me wrong I think a proper catechesis about marriage and family needs to be required for marriage prep. and I highly recommend charting an NFP method before you get married. This catechisis would include the Church's teaching on human sexuality and why the Church does not condone the use of contraceptives. So as you can see I am not against NFP I just think it is secondary to the real issue which is proper catechisis! 

I think the "planning" in NFP has not worked out for us. If it were up to us we would have at least two children by now, so our "planning" with NFP hasn't worked out. I think by using the word planning we have given a false sense to couples that they have complete control over their fertility at least that is the way some NFP promoters make it sound, which makes NFP sound like the "catholic contraception." This is not just in my head ya know, I once had a fellow parishioner call me because she wanted to help out with NFP ministry. She met with me so I could get a feel for where she was at. I came to learn that she thought NFP meant that you just don't use hormonal contraceptives but you could still use a condom and withdrawal. Her point of view was that her and her husband can do whatever they want because they were planning their family naturally by not using hormonal contraceptives. Needless to say she did not end up helping with the ministry after our meeting but I did dialogue with her and gave her a proper catechisis. I encouraged her to learn an NFP method but she said her husband wouldn't be open to it. I have come across many couples who have this misconception.  

I want to give some background on my journey with NFP. I first heard of the Catholic Church's teaching against contraception when I was a junior in HS. Before that I knew I was against abortion from a very young age. I had a teacher Ms. K in jr. high that really shaped my opinion about how wrong abortion was, she was one of those "crazy" pro-lifers that went to pray in front of an abortion clinic every week. To this day I am so thankful for her witness to me and letting me turn my simple 6th grade persuasion/advertisement speech into an anti-abortion speech. I could tell as the rest of my peers were trying to sell a new product with their speeches that they didn't get what I was saying.

 Alas I was ahead of my time but I remember feeling so convicted and strongly from a very young age that abortion was wrong even though in HS and college my education and teachers tried to persuade me otherwise. I didn't really have an opinion that contraception was wrong at the time because I didn't really think about it to be honest. My thought process was something like "sex with a condom or having to take a pill would be too annoying, doesn't seem very romantic and I am too lazy to do that so I should wait to have sex until I am married because I could get pregnant" Yup that was me a lazy teenager but there is some truth in my thinking. Sex = babies and you should not have to put on armory physically or emotionally to have sex! There should be no "safe sex" because sex in its original state does not need protection, we should not need protection from sex! We do not need to protect ourselves from babies, they need our protection! 

So you're probably wondering why I am bringing up abortion when this post is suppose to be about NFP, right? Well abortion and contraception go hand in hand. It is no coincidence that the folks at planned parenthood thought it would be great business to offer these services together. If contraception doesn't work in preventing pregnancy then abortion is your next option, just step into the room next door and they'll take care of that for you. Now this connection centers around the principal of avoiding a pregnancy at any cost. We as a society have lost respect for women, children, men and families all together. We think that having the freedom to be with whomever, wherever and whenever makes us a free society not tied down like our great grandparents were to marriage and family. Oh yes they were very tied down with a steady job, income and a stable home with a mom and dad! Nobody wants that anymore, right? 

We think all this sex education will make us wiser and happier adults because we know better than our great grandparents and they were such old fashioned thinkers. Well I know plenty of people with this mentality that are not wiser or happier adults, some of them are my clients! Yes, some of my clients have used contraception before and now I am trying to help them figure out and repair their fertility. I see the damage that contraception does to a person and marriages as I see some of my clients who are heart broken that they ever brought it into their marriage. They grieve for the time lost with their spouse and they are now trying to heal and repair their marriages as well as their bodies from the damage of all those artificial hormones that those contraceptives were pumping into their bodies for years! 

Now let's get down to the basics of sex education through the lens of the Catholic Church. There is a procreative and unitive aspect to the sexual act so says the Church (CCC 1604, 2363). Since there are two aspects to every sexual act you can not separate the two, it is unnatural. Also, why would you want to separate them? Really think about that, why would anyone want to separate the "fidelity and fecundity" from sex? Is it because we are selfish? Is it because we have too much pride in thinking that we can act and do whatever we want? Do we think we have a right to sex? When a husband and wife come together they are expressing a self gift to one another! Why on earth would I only want part of the gift and not the whole thing? Do you want half a Christmas present? Do you only want half of your birthday presents or wedding gifts? No of course not, you want the whole thing! So why would you not want all of your spouse including their fertility.

 Why is infertility so heartbreaking if fecundity(fertility) is no big deal and it secondary to physical pleasure?! It is becasue our fertility IS a big deal, it is part of who we are! Fertility is not an afterthought of sex, it is part of it! The most heartbreaking thing about infertility to me has been the fact that the fertility that I give to my husband in each marital imbrace is broken. The fact that my husband takes my broken self-gift and gives the gift of himself to me in return has been the most humbling, beautiful and healing experience about infertility! It brings me to tears that my husband would accept my whole self, PCOS and all!

I have only come to realize this through NFP and recognizing that yes even my broken fertility is a gift. Charting my cycles and learning about how screwed up my body is was not easy at first. It was tough to face the reality that something was wrong. I have to say that it was awesome to have my husband charting and learning with me so that he could also see what was going on, it also gave me a huge sense of support and comfort in knowing that I was not on this journey alone. At first it was awkward for him to ask me what signs I saw that day but after awhile we got more comfortable with it. We learned how to communicate about the most intimate part of ourselves, our fertility and with that came a deeper respect and love for one another. It was those very same NFP charts that I took to several Drs. to figure out what was wrong and they all said that I needed to take the pill and all would be fine after that. Knowing that the pill was bad news for me physically and not good for our marriage we declined that offer but they offered no help after that other than a standard blood test and one random ultrasound. When I found a Dr. who actually took my fertility seriously and looked at my charts and said there was something wrong, NFP became more than just a way to "plan" out my family. From that point on NFP became health care! It became a way to track my fertility and let my Dr. know what these biological markers were pointing to.

NFP has saved my life in so many ways as far as getting to the bottom of my health issues but also giving me a strong marriage. Ask anyone who know us and they will say JJ and I are truly one. I feel part of that is due to our expereince with NFP. It has given us a knowledge about one another that we would have not had without it and it has broken down communication barriers that we have had. If I can talk to my husband about my cervical mucus, I can talk to him about anything! I know that sounds so embarrassing, but it is true! 

When couples are using NFP whether to achieve or postpone a pregnancy there is a general saying that they are "open to life." This means that they are not using contracepives and that they are open to the possibility of new life even if they are trying to avoid/postpone a pregnancy. For me as a woman dealing with infertility my view on NFP and call to be open to life looks very different from those who do not have any fertility problems. Me being open to life means to accept whatever may happen with each cycle. There have been plenty of times where I have told God and JJ that I want my whole reporductive system taken out because getting my period each month hurts physically, spititually and emotionally but, that would make me not open to life. My call to be open to life means to accept this cross and hope that God will make me bear fruit in however He sees fit. Open to life means that there is a possibility of never conceiving again or being receptive to the slim chance that we might. For me being open to life means giving God my hopes, dreams and desires every cycle and asking Him to do with it what He will. Open to life means remembering that God is the ultimate giver of human life, not me! Open to life means giving God my Fiat every day but more specifically every cycle. 

If you would like more info. on NFP or Church teaching please contact me! I love to talk about this stuff and hear about other people's experience with NFP. 

*CCC means Catechism of the Catholic Church which is a collection of official Church teachings. Go look it up!