Friday, 28 February 2014

7 (Relatively) Quick Takes – About Moving, Napping, Food, Kijiji and Boots


The Brason’s are moving!

After a winter of spending close to $700.00 a month on ONLY heating (oil is soooo expensive, never EVER move into a house heated on oil), Dane and I have decided that it’s time to find a new place before the baby comes.  We spent a week looking at places for rent near where we live, but none of them would be practical for a little crawler. So after some discussions and some tears, we’ve decided to move back to the east end of town to be close to our parents.  Since Dane is now working with my dad and I’m about to go on maternity leave for a year, we no longer needed to be situated in the west end. We signed the rental agreement last week and we will be moving into a cute little 3 bedroom townhouse at the end of April.

I’m excited to be moving into a house that functions better for us (not to mention having an en-suite and walk-in closet) but I’m not looking forward to moving while pregnant.  My belly gets in the way of everything AND I’m not allowed to lift anything so I’m really hoping to get lots of help with the packing (*cough cough* sisters).  I know I will also miss our 1 acre lot, having no traffic, the country roads and the people at our parish, but I know this decision is for the best.  


Napping at Work

I wish they had a nap room at work.  Working full time and being pregnant is taking A LOT out of me. I would nap during my lunch break but there are not private spots for me to sleep and it’s freezing outside so I can’t go sleep in my car.

Most of the people I work with have never been pregnant before (because they are men), so I get very little sympathy for my condition AND I’m pretty sure if they caught me sleeping at my desk I would get fired.  To make matters worse, my tiny bundle of joy has decided that she likes to practice her karate moves in the middle of the night which is keeping me up. Between the kicks, getting up to take half a bottle of tums, and going to pee 8 times a night, let’s just say I’m not getting the beauty sleep I need.  I hope I find a solution to this soon because I’m about to turn into a zombie.


Salmon Cakes

Now that I’m no longer repulsed by food ( thank you second trimester) I’ve been trying lots of new recipes in the hopes of adding some variety to our boring old menu list. I think I’ve been doing a great job (though I could be biased because I want to eat EVERYTHING lately), but the recipe I’m proudest of are my salmon cakes. Dane HATES fish and so I feel bad every time I cook it because he eats it like I’m serving him a plate of worms. However, the salmon cakes I made on Tuesday night were a HUGE hit. My husband actually said “MMMM” and he ate one of my portions.  Essentially you mix crackers, 2 cans of canned salmon (bones and all) egg and onions together. Press them into patties, coat them with flour and fry them in a pan for about 10 minutes. I served mine with garlic aioli which seemed to give them the extra flavor they need.


Shrove Tuesday Pancake Dinner

It’s Shrove Tuesday next week and that means that Catholics/Christians everywhere will be going to their parish hall and stuffing themselves silly with pancakes, sausages and syrup.  I had NEVER heard of this tradition until I started dating Dane and I thought it was so weird.  Maybe it’s because I’m French Canadian and this is just not something that we do, or it could be because I never really paid attention to the church events around me.  However, I decided to look into it and the reasoning behind the tradition makes total sense. Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday which means the beginning of Lent, a time of penance and fasting.   Apparently, everyone wanted to get rid of their rich foods (cream, milk, sugar, etc…) before Lent started and so, the Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper began. If you ask me though, I would have a Shrove Tuesday Steak and Shrimp dinner because that seems a lot more indulgent then pancakes, but I guess our ancestors didn’t have access to those foods.


Lent “Resolutions” ???

Speaking of Lent, I’ve been putting some thought into what to give up. Since I can’t fast from food I also have to think of what I should fast from on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. So far the only thing I’ve come up with is Facebook/ Twitter. I’ve also thought of fasting from smoking, drinking and casual drug taking, but I don’t do those things anyways so I don’t think it would count.  If anyone has any suggestions please let me know or else it’s looking like I’m going to be MIA from social media websites (and every friend I have on Facebook is now cheering).


A Day in the Life of Boots

Boots, our cat, has gotten very clingy lately. I mean she was always clingy but the past few weeks, she’s taken it to a whole other level.  I feel like I can’t do anything without her following me. I’m hoping that maybe moving into the new house will make her more independent.

Lately, this has been her everyday routine. In the morning she wakes up at the same time as Dane and follows him around the house until he leaves. AS SOON, as I hear the door close, she is in bed with me either sleeping in Dane’s spot or on me. Then she whines when my alarm clock goes off (and doesn’t let me snooze), until I get up and go to the bathroom. I have to leave the door open when I shower, and she sits on the bath mat waiting for me. When I get out of the shower, she runs to the bedroom and watches while I do my hair, get dressed, etc… The only time she leaves me alone is when I’m blow drying my hair, because she hates loud noises. During that time she runs around the house like a maniac and when I turn the blow dryer off she comes running in the room panting and out of breath. Then she cries when I leave for work and I can see her doing those sad eyes (like Puss In Boots from Shrek) from the window. When I get home she is waiting for me at the door and follows me so closely I almost trip on her. She watches me cook supper and whines for attention and then she goes to do cat stuff for about two hours (which includes sleeping, secretly playing with her toys and flirting with the cat that lives next door). When she reappears, she tries to sit on my belly as I’m watching television and then around 10 PM she goes to the bedroom and waits for us to turn on the humidifier. (She loves the humidifier and can stare at it for hours.  We still haven’t figured out why.)  Sometimes she will get into bed with us right away, other times; she will go play and comes back within an hour. She will then sleep in our bed until Dane gets up and repeat.


The Kijiji Challenge

Since we are moving soon, are poor and are in need of some new furniture, I’ve been looking to Kjiji in order to find some nice used pieces.  I’ll be honest, there is lots of junk on Kijiji, but if you are patient and scroll through 14 pages, you can sometimes get lucky. So far, I’ve been able to get a nice little 3 drawer dresser for the baby’s room and a cute white rocking chair that barely needs any work done to it. I spent $30 on each of the items, and I’m really happy with what I got. Next up on the Kijiji challenge, a television and a TV stand for Dane’s “caveman” as my dad would say (because he’s French and sometimes gets expressions confused).

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

10 Annoying Things Your Hear From Cafeteria Catholics

I think we all of us know at least one cafeteria Catholic. Some of them are our friends, family members and fellow parishioners. These are people who identify as catholic but yet don’t seem to follow anything that the Catholic Church teaches.  They pick and choose elements from the catholic faith that work for them and reject the teachings that are too hard to follow.

 Most of these individuals are grossly under-catechized, and so in the hopes of educating some of the cafeteria Catholics in my life, I put together 10 false ideas that seem to be common with these individuals.

1.       “I personally would never get an abortion, but I believe that every woman should have the right to choose.”

By saying you would never get one yourself, you are proving that you recognize the value of that unborn life. Having said that, would you knowingly let a woman kill her newborn child? Probably not.  So why would you sit idly by, and let a woman kill the life that you clearly see as worthy of value, whether that life is in your womb, or another woman’s womb or out of the womb?

2.       “My husband and I use contraception because we don’t believe the Church should be telling us how many children we should have.”

The Church is not telling you how many children to have. God is. And part of having faith, is trusting that God will not give you more than you handle. Furthermore, there are natural methods of planning pregnancies that are recognized and encouraged by the Catholic Church, namely Natural Family Planning (which is actually just as effective-if not more-than the birth control pill).

3.        “I just don’t see the problem with homosexual marriage. They love each other, so they should have the right to get married. Didn’t Jesus tell us to love each other?”

When Christ came to earth, he permanently established marriage as a sacrament between a man and a woman.  The purpose of marriage is twofold. First, by joining together in a covenant, man and wife become each other’s vocations, in other words they will lead each other to heaven. Second, through their sacramental love, a new life is conceived (a reflection of the Holy Trinity). Since two men and two women, do not have the physical attributes necessary to conceive a child, it is unnatural for them to be united in the covenant of marriage because the twofold purpose will never fully be achieved.  Let’s keep in mind however, that even if the marital act does not end in the conception of a child, the act is still sacramental as it has the possibility to create a new life, without that possibility, the act is invalid.

4.       “I don’t need to go to confession because God knows all my sins and forgives them without me having to tell a priest everything. It’s not like the priest needs to forgive my sins.”

During his public ministry, Jesus himself forgave sins (the story of the adulterous woman, the story of the woman washing his feet with her tears), so clearly we should be asking God for forgiveness when we sin.  Jesus himself also established Confession as a sacrament. He gave the apostles authority to act in persona Christi (in Jesus’ Name) and that authority is passed down through the Church to all priests. When you go to confession the priests acts as Jesus, therefore it’s not the priest forgiving your sins it’s Jesus himself!

5.       “Only God can judge me”

You are absolutely right, only God can judge you. However, God left us some pretty firm rules as to what we will be judged on. When you break one of those rules, it is our Christian duty to point out, with love, that you have done something wrong. Also, God being your sole judge is not an excuse for bad behavior.

6.       “I think that if you are a good person, and you do good things then you don’t need to go to church every Sunday and follow every rule to get to heaven.”

If I had one of those game show buttons that make an “EERRR” sound, I’d press it every time I hear this. First, Jesus said that the only way to the Father (i.e. heaven) is through Him. Cool, so to go to heaven you just need to believe in Jesus? Well that’s true, but you also need to listen to what He says and follow His commandments.  So unfortunately, just being a good person and doing good things does not buy you a one way ticket to heaven.  The good news is that Jesus left us a Church to guide us so that it can help us know what to do to get into heaven.

7.       “We were both raised catholic and still consider ourselves catholic, but we won’t be baptising our children because we don’t want to impose a religion on them. We want them to choose by themselves.”

If you are telling me this, than you better be bringing your kids to church, to temple, to the mosque, etc.. How can your kids choose if you are not exposing them to any type of religion? Sure you don’t want to impose religion on your kids, because they might feel suffocated by it, but it is your duty as a catholic parent to raise your kids according to the teachings of the Church. By having your child baptized, you are ridding him/her of original sin and letting God give this baby all these spiritual graces in order to help them grow in faith.  Why wouldn’t you want that from the very beginning of your child’s life?

8.       “Women should definitely be allowed to become priests. I mean men and women are equal.”

The Church definitely views men and women as equals. However, just like all humans have different vocations, God has called men and women to have different purposes/roles within the church.  Married men are called to be the head of the household and to lead their wife and children to God. Married women are called to let their husband lead their household and support their decisions. And so, just like married men and women, men and women who choose the consecrated life are called to different purposes.  Consecrated men are called to priesthood in order to lead the church community, and consecrated women are called to support the church through prayer and acts of charity. Both of these purposes are very different but equally as important within the church.

9.       “My fiancé and I are getting married in a catholic church because that’s where our parents expect us to get married.”

If you don’t participate or believe in what the Catholic Church teaches, then please don’t get married in a catholic church. The catholic sacrament of matrimony is so much bigger than a quick ceremony at city hall. The sacrament binds you with that other person for the rest of your life. From the moment you say your vows, God will see you and your spouse as ONE person.  That’s why the Catholic Church requires that couples take pre-cana classes before they get married.  Therefore, if you don’t understand the immense significance of a catholic marriage, don’t get married in a catholic church.  After all, you can always get your marriage blessed by the Church if you come to understand its true meaning one day.

10.   “We take communion to remember what Jesus did at the Last Supper. It’s more symbolic than anything else.” 

I was going to answer this, but I think this verse from John 6: 53 – 66, answers it way better than I ever could.

53 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”

61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit[e] and life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”

66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.”

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

"Jesus I Trust in You" is Easier Said Than Done

I love the Divine Mercy Devotion, from St. Faustina’s Diary to the Novena and Chaplet; I believe this is a devotion every Catholic should hold dear to their heart! For those that are not familiar with it, I strongly urge you to look into it and get a copy of St. Faustina’s Diary. The truths revealed in it are contemporary, catholic-church approved, answers to today’s decaying sense of morals and values.

I think part of the reason that a lot of people end up liking this devotion so much is because in times where everything just sucks, it’s nice to know that you can trust in Jesus and know that He will help you get through everything. And as a general rule, when things don’t work out like I want them, I’m able to breathe and say “Jesus, I trust in you”, which usually makes me feel better.

But sometimes, I feel as though Jesus hears me saying that I trust Him, and He asks me to prove it. It’s as though telling Him I trust Him, is an invitation to let Him give me opportunities to trust Him even more. And that’s where you have to truly give yourself over to Him, and not just say that you trust Him. 

I try to think of it as a trust fall with God. If I stop myself before landing in my partners arms, the exercise is not completed and I’ve just proved that I don’t trust the person who is going to be catching me. However, if I let myself fall into the other person’s arms, I have given my trust completely over to them and I’ve let them decide what will happen next (either I fall or they catch me).  But with God, we don’t need to worry that He will drop us, because He has guaranteed, through Christ’s passion and resurrection, that He will ALWAYS catch us.

Sometimes, it’s hard to remember that. For my husband and I, we have to work hard every day to remember to trust Him. From having financial worries, to determining if we will use natural family planning, there’s not a day that goes by that we don’t struggle to let ourselves fall into God’s arms.

Part of the blame, definitely needs to be put on today’s society which urges us to take control of everything right down to bringing new life into the world. However, Romans 12:2 reminds us that we need to be in the world but not of the world. As Christians we need to remember that even if society/ the rest of the world is doing it a certain way, we as Christians need to do it Christ’s way. And Christ’s way, means trusting Him with every aspect of our lives.

Handing everything over to Him, does not happen in one fell swoop. It’s an exercise that needs to be repeated every day for the rest of our lives.  Sometimes, situations where we need to trust Him are obvious but others aren’t as clear.  I think that as long as we try to make Christ the center of our lives, we’ll be able to see where we are lacking when it comes to putting are trust in Him.

So next time you know you need to trust God, but you are having a hard time giving it all over, just remember that after the initial fear of the fall, you’ll be falling into the arms of someone who loves you so much, he already gave up His life for you. I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t think of a better person whose arms to fall into.  

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

What My Parents Did Right

Becoming a parent is scary. From which car seat is safest to what school you will be sending your children to, there are so many opportunities for you to mess up. As Dane and I prepare to welcome our baby into the world, there have been moments of fear, frustration and excitement. We are trying to develop a parenting style, agree on how to raise our children and set up rules without even knowing the little people that God will be blessing us with. Sure we can decide that we don’t want technology ruling our house, but how will it really be once the baby comes? And as this baby grows, will we make the right decisions, will we have set the correct rules and will we be able to do all that without losing our relationship with that child?

All these worries have made me empathize with my parents. Sure they didn’t do everything perfect but I think they did pretty darn well under the circumstances. At 23 years old, I’m married to a nice catholic man, we go to church every Sunday, we are involved in our parish and we always try to keep the Lord at the center of relationship. I call my mom every day, and my husband works with my dad so we are very close to my parents. We go visit my in-laws (or they visit us) about twice a month and we often send each other emails and texts just to check in. We’re not rich, but we try not to place too much value on material goods and we are not irresponsible with our money.

I look at some of the people I was friends with in high school and wonder how we turned out so different.  These girls are single, sleeping around with different guys, going clubbing 3 different nights a week and posting some really provocative pictures of themselves on Facebook.  I went to the same school as these girls, we were raised in similar middle-class families in the same town, with the same influences and yet we are polar opposites.  And although you could say that we have different personalities, that our college years were formative and we did not live them out the same way, I have to give the credit to my parents.

My parents made incredible sacrifices to guarantee that my sisters and I would be raised correctly. My mother gave up her dreams in order to stay home with us and my dad worked insane hours to be able to provide financially. We were not rich but our house was full of love and I never felt like we were going without.  My parents brought us to church every Sunday and taught us everything they knew about having a relationship with God. They took time out of their schedules to volunteer for the church and gave back as much as they could. My mom and dad never hid their love for each other, sure they would fight, but I never doubted how much they cared for one another. They taught my sisters and I that great relationships are not something that just happens, they need to be worked on.

As we turned into teenagers, my parents set up rules to keep us safe and out of trouble. I remember hating my curfew and limitations but then I’d hear the things my friends got up to when I was stuck at home and I would be glad I missed out.  Through the rebellious stages, my parents always kept the lines of communication open. Sure, I didn’t tell them everything, but knowing that if something happened they would be there, made me feel a lot better.

Eventually, I stopped being a rebellious teenager and turned into a young adult. That was probably the most difficult transition for me as I was trying to find out who I was. I tried different things, made some very poor decisions and when life had kicked me around a little bit; I would crawl back to my parents knowing that they would fix everything and take care of me.  But the nice thing was that they let me make those decisions, even though I know it hurt them to let me go. I needed to learn, and I was old enough that they could trust that eventually I would figure it out on my own.

After moving out, getting married and getting pregnant, I see how difficult it will be to be a parent. Taking care of yourself is difficult, taking care of yourself and your spouse is even harder, but taking care of yourself, your spouse and these little people who are dependent on you for everything is almost impossible. 

My parents did an amazing job with me. They were dealt some very difficult hands in life, and yet I look at my childhood and think “This is what I want for my kids”.  I want to always keep Christ at the center of my family.  I want to adapt my parenting style according to my kids’ ages and maturity levels.  I want to show my kids love, even when they make terrible decisions. I want to punish my kids when they do something wrong. I want to set up rules to protect my children, even when those rules seemed dated or out of style and even when ALL the other kids are allowed to do it.  

I’m willing to sacrifice my dreams so that I can raise my kids properly and give them everything my parents gave to me. Sure, Dane and I will inevitably screw up every once in a while. But as long as we can give them a childhood similar to ours, I think they will turn out alright and one day, want the same for their own kids.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

The Plates are Flying in the Brason House

"Argue as much as you like, even if the plates fly that is fine, but never end the day without making peace,” - Pope Francis

They say that the first year of marriage is the toughest. I think that I can agree with that statement. Dane and I have been married for a little under 6 months, and we’ve never argued as much as we have since we said I do. From cleaning, to family, to just plain silliness, we’ve sat there and bickered about it for hours, sometimes days even. There are some issues that we argue about once and others that keep popping up. We argue at home, in public, while out with friends, at the grocery store, in the car, at church, pretty much everywhere.

Sometimes things are thrown and voices are raised. Sometimes we just plain yell at each other. Sometimes we argue because one of us is crabby and just wants to pick a good fight. Sometimes one of us threatens to sleep in the guest bedroom (which has yet to actually happen). Sometimes fights end casually with no resolution because both of us just forget what we were arguing about. Other times, fights end with me crying in the bathroom as Dane knocks on the door begging me to come and both us making promises to change our behaviors.

Dane and I dated for 2 years and lived together for 9 months, before we got married and even though we argued sometimes, things got worse after we tied the knot. It’s as if the thought of being together for the rest of our lives, released our real, no holds barred, personalities. I would love to tell my naïve, engaged –self that even if I kept telling everyone we would be fine and things wouldn’t change that much, it wouldn’t make it true. I think that’s something every engaged couple needs to believe though. Because without the illusion that “Our marriage will be different”, no one would ever get married.

I know things aren’t going to get any easier either because in 5 months we are going to have a baby, Dane is changing jobs, and we are going down to one salary. These are all incredibly stressful life events, and are bound to spark a few (or a lot) of arguments.

It’s no surprise to hear that most marriages end in the first 5 years. Those are big stressful years for most married couples. Not only are you trying to adjust to this other person being in your life, but you buy your first house together, you have kids and you worry about money. Most of these things will warrant an argument or two, from silly things to where you will put the bread in your house (the pantry, a basket, the bread cupboard) to serious things like how you will raise your children.

Because the truth of the matter is that you are two different people, from two different families, coming together and trying to make decisions about the most important things in life, while respecting both individual’s viewpoints. Moreover, you are bound together for life, so any decision from financial to minimal will directly affect your partner. That means that every single decision needs to be analyzed and discussed with your partner whether it’s something small like inviting people for supper or something big like buying a new car. And sometimes, even if you are well-suited for each other and you agree on key things like values and religion, your partner will disagree with you and you will end up fighting about what decision to make.

I think it’s crucial for newly married couples to admit how much they fight and to share it with others. I want my engaged friends to know how difficult marriage truly is even if they don’t listen to me. Because some day, they will be arguing with their husband or wife ALL THE TIME and I want them to know that this is NORMAL.

There are 2 reasons a newly married couple would not be fighting. Either one party is being walked all over OR they have emotionally disconnected themselves from the relationship and so they don’t care about the outcome of decisions anymore.

I know some of you are reading this and think this will not apply to you because you’ve been with your boyfriend or girlfriend for x amount of years and you know them better than yourself. However, there seems to be something about the idea that you will be with someone FOREVER that seems to bring out the worst in people, if you let it that is.

Before we got married, Dane and I had pre-marital counselling, we read relationship books together, and we abstained from any physical relations all in the hopes of getting to know each other on a deeper level. We wanted to make sure that we would avoid all the arguing, but sometimes you have to argue in order to get to know one another better.

Although we do argue a lot, as long as it doesn’t ever get physical and we both refrain from saying things we can’t take back, I think it’s just another aspect of being newlyweds. Some aspects of being newly married are great ;), and others just suck (like figuring out who will clean the toilet) but ALL of them are bringing us closer together and strengthening our relationship.

Yes, some days I think my husband is being stupid, or selfish or just completely irrational and I’m sure he thinks the same about me. But as much as we fight, at the end of the day before I fall asleep, I can still kiss my husband goodnight and know in my heart that I love him more today than I did yesterday.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Why I am Dreading My Baby Shower … Just A Little Bit

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ungrateful for my family hosting the shower or my family and friends coming over and showering me with gifts. I am so touched that my family and friends care about me that much that they want to celebrate our little miracle coming into the world. So why would I dread my baby shower?

It’s a long story but to begin, as someone who is pro-life I want to make sure that I’m sending the right message out there: Having a baby is affordable. However, in today’s society, it’s almost an inconceivable thought to try to have a minimalist approach to bringing a child into the world. The way I see it, this baby doesn’t need much, and I can make do without most of the gadgets first time moms usually purchase or receive. Sure there are some things I will need, like a crib and a changing pad and a stroller. There are also things I would like to have like a nice glider with a matching ottoman, or an ERGO baby carrier. But, those two things are not necessities and should not take precedence over things my child will truly needs like diapers. And so, with that in mind, I’ve put together a list of items that myself and other moms have deemed “necessary” and I’ll do my best to avoid purchasing things that are not on this list.

Before people started warning me about waiting until the baby shower to buy things, I just thought of the baby shower as a time before the birth of the baby to get together with family and friends. We would play games, eat some cake and have a great afternoon. But now it seems as though I’m forcing people to get me gifts. I HATE that, because I’m not a gift grubby person. I don’t expect people to get me presents and it makes me feel as though my husband and I are some sort of charity case.

What really bothers me the most is that even if I don’t expect people to get us presents, I know they will. However, I am extremely worried about getting items I will never use. There are a lot of baby items that are very personal, like a stroller. I need something agile enough to get around on unpaved trails, but not so heavy that I can’t lift it. Even if I pick out my perfect stroller, I’m concerned someone will purchase a lovely stroller I’m sure, but not the one that works best for me and my family. Another example would be receiving 100 different outfits which are all the same size. My child will only be that size for a limited amount of time and I do not want to have 100 outfits that are all worn once, if that. I’m just so worried about receiving too many things that will stay in my house untouched and unused until I finally get the energy to donate them or sell them online.

All those worries have lead me to decide to register for the shower. This was a hard decision to make BUT I feel that in this situation it is necessary. As a general rule, I hate registries because it can be viewed as saying: “You must get me something, and I will limit your choices to ridiculously expensive things”. However, in this case I’m hoping it will convey: “ If you must get us something (and it’s not necessary that you do), please consider choosing something from our carefully selected list of necessary baby equipment.” The way I see it, we will have to buy these items regardless of if we receive them at the shower or not. By purchasing something from our list, our friends and family will not only facilitate our transition into parenthood BUT will also avoid me the gruelling task of sorting through endless amounts of items we won’t need.

Please don’t think I’m kidding myself thinking that everyone will purchase from our registry. More than likely, some will avoid the list like the plague and purchase something I unexpectedly love. However, the registry will allow me to somewhat control the amount of things we receive and subsequently the amount of wastefulness.

So to my friends and family who are planning or attending my baby shower. Thank you so much for caring enough about this little life in my belly to be part of this special day with us. Your sheer presence is enough, but if you feel the need to bring a gift with you, please consider choosing something from our registry. The items we have selected are all items we feel will be required in the coming year and will be put to good use. We love you and are so blessed to have you all in our lives.

Are You a Mary or A Martha?

Luke 10:38-42

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Whenever God needs to put things into perspective for me, He will usually find a way for me to read the story of Mary and Martha. I’ll be sitting at church and it will be the Gospel for that Sunday, or I’ll stumble upon it while reading the Bible or someone will mention it on the radio. Most of us have heard this story a million times. We all know that while Mary, is sitting and listening to Jesus, Martha is too busy with her house work to sit down and do the same. After all, I’m sure she had supper to make because Jesus just dropped by (I always wonder if he was unannounced), and her house might have been messy so she needed to tidy up. After running around for a while she goes up to Jesus and asks Him to get Mary to come help her with the house work. But instead, Jesus reminds Martha that Mary is not worried about all this stuff and has decided to spend time with Him and listen to Him because He is what is most important.

I am a Martha and if Jesus dropped by my house I’d more than likely be doing the same thing. However, my husband would be sitting in the living room, having a beer with Jesus and just chatting away. He wouldn't think twice about the way the house looks, or getting supper ready or any of that. I know this because every time we have company over that is exactly what happens. Sometimes, I’m resentful, just like Martha, because I have all these things to do and I feel like I’m the only one who a) does them and b) cares about doing them. But I’m slowly learning that as I’m cooking and cleaning and generally just being a perfectionist about everything, life is still happening around me. From household duties, to parish responsibilities, to personal preferences, these things are eating up time that could be better spent with my family and with God.

I’m not saying give up on cooking and cleaning, but I am saying that maybe the house doesn't ALWAYS need to be spotless. My mom used to clean once a day when we were little, if you came by before or after that, more than likely the house was a mess again. Maybe the things I do for others can be well done, but they don’t need to be PERFECT. I don’t want to be that mom who is absent from her kids lives because she is too busy keeping house. When my kids are making a mess I want to be there with them helping them make it.

I think that as women, we need to balance what society tells us our house should look like and what our heart/ our Bible tells us. My priorities should be God and people –centered, not materialistically centered. So what if someone comes by and my floors are not swept, or the dishes aren’t done? Instead of racing around and ignoring my guest, I should be spending time with them. Or instead of doing laundry late at night, I could be spending that time in prayer.

I know I’ll never completely be a Mary, and I have to work hard every day to stop myself from being a total Martha. I think that finding a balance between them is really is key. Like Martha, I’ll keep my house relatively clean, worry when I need to, and take care of my family, but like Mary, I’ll know what’s important in life and not let the little things take precedence over God and my family. And when I fall off center, I know God will bring me right back by reminding me of the story of Mary and Martha.

Evangelization and a Cup of Coffee

Often times, we think that evangelization, is harder and more complicated than it actually is. We think that in order to speak about Jesus, we have to read thousands of books have all the answers and be a little bit pushy. When thinking about evangelizing that way, it’s easy to assume that we should just leave that task to the professionals. However, speaking about our faith should be something we do each and every day. It’s putting yourself in situations where people will respond and ask questions about your way of life.

For example, I work in an office with mostly Russians who are Jewish, but do not practice their faith. They do not know much about Christianity or Catholicism so it’s very rare that I will forcefully “preach the gospel” to them. It’s just not my style and I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable at work. But just because I’m not in their faces saying “Repent! Repent!”, it does not mean that I’m not doing my part as a Christian.

Every day, I do simple things and wait patiently for them to respond. I started by decorating my cubicle with a rosary and prayer cards. Little by little, my coworkers started asking me about them. I would then explain what a rosary is, how Catholics use them and tell the stories of the saints portrayed on my prayer cards. I also wear a miraculous medal around my neck every day. Most people are not familiar with it and will ask me what the medal means. I’m also very open about my weekend plans. When people ask me what I did during the weekend, I usually start by saying I went to church on Sunday or if I took part in a parish event I’ll mention that as well. During my wedding planning, I also used to talk about my marriage preparation classes which generated A LOT of questions.

I never thought of these little things as evangelization. I just did them automatically because my faith is such a huge part of my life. However one morning, as I was making myself a cup of coffee in the office break room, one of my coworkers asked me what it said on my cup. “Live by faith, Galatians 2:20” He asked me what is Galatians and I explained to him that it was a book in the New Testament. As he walked away, I could tell he was intrigued. I don’t know if he will research it, but just the fact that he was thinking about it was good enough for me. At that moment, it dawned on me that I had just evangelized with a cup of coffee.

I don’t think it’s necessary that all of us go out into the streets with flyers to preach the gospel. That may work with some, but for others, it may just turn them off Christianity completely. I think the best form of evangelization is really letting Christ shine through you in your day to day life. I believe that people really do see that in me and once they see my joy they want to be part of it as well. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:16”

So the next time someone talks about evangelization, don’t brush it off as something that can only be done by professionals. Let God shine through and evangelize with your own cup of coffee.

My Home is a No Phone Zone

Last week, I was sitting on the couch next to my husband. It was about 8:30 PM, the dishes were done and the next day’s lunches were packed. We were both relaxing after a day at work when I realized neither of us had said anything in about an hour. I looked up and found the culprit. My husband and I had both been on our phones for over an hour. I was probably looking at social media websites and the hubby possibly reading business articles and looking up sports scores. I didn’t say anything that night but, I knew something needed to happen.

This wasn’t the first time my husband and I had phone issues in our relationship. Before landing a job as an admin assistant, I worked in public relations and my phone was glued to me at all times. This caused major problems between my then boyfriend/now husband. After I left that job, the phone seemed to no longer cause too many issues, but then my husband got an Iphone. Shortly after he began to be on his phone ALL the time. It seemed as though he could not spend an hour off his phone. At first I felt ignored but then I started doing the same thing.

And so there we were, in the same room, but completely ignoring each other night after night. I would sometimes get frustrated at my husband for spending so much time on his phone. Occasionally, he would be reading his phone while I was talking, or would refuse to do something right away because he was busy playing a game on his phone. The cat would literally jump on him and try to get between his line of vision and his phone so she could get some attention.

After that evening last week I knew it was time to do something. I mean we couldn’t be doing the phone thing when we have kids. They would feel ignored by us. And so I decided to make our home a phone free zone.

The rules are as follows: First, when we get home we both have to put our phones away. We can’t carry them around with us or keep them in our pockets. We both leave the phones on top of a shelf I have in the kitchen. Second, if the phone rings, you can answer it, no questions asked. The same goes for text messages. However, once the phone call or text message has been answered, the phone goes back on the shelf. Third, if you need to check something on your phone ( an email, a question that’s nagging you, the weather, etc..) you have to ask for permission from the other person to be able to use your phone, and once you are done with the phone, it goes back on the shelf. Phones can be checked at the following times: when the other is in the bathroom, when the other is out of the house, when the other is sleeping. There are more exceptions to this, but as a general rule, if we are together in the same room, both phones should be put away.

It’s been about 5 days since our home became a phone free zone. It was very difficult at first, but we seem to be getting used to it now. If one of us forgets, the other usually just says “Phone free zone” and the offending party puts his or her phone away without complaining (so far).

As you can imagine, having a phone free home has allowed us to talk a lot more and spend more quality time together. With a baby on the way, and all that’s going for us, it’s very important that we try to spend time as a couple rather than just roommates. I think as time goes on the phone free rule, will continue in our home. As the kids get older and get cell phones too, we will require the same from them. It’s very easy to get lost in technology and forget to socialize with the people around you. I don’t believe that we should completely cut ourselves off from technology, but limiting its use will hopefully bring us closer together as a family.

The Most Difficult Week Of My Life

The minute I peed on that stick, I knew I was pregnant. The chemicals had already started taking action and I could faintly see those 2 lines that so many couples are hoping for appear. I ran away from the stick and went to go wait for those long 3 minutes. I knew, but in my mind I thought that maybe, just maybe the test had reacted early and line would vanish. When the egg timer rang, my husband and I walked to the bathroom full of anticipation. I looked at the test and there was my big fat positive, as fertility forums would call it. I was excited, shocked and blown away by the fact that I was going to be a mom. My husband didn't know what two lines meant so he just assumed it was negative and kept repeating “That means negative right? That’s negative?”. I remember looking up at him and just seeing his reaction as I told him “Nope, that’s positive, I’m pregnant”. We were so excited. That weekend we told our parents, who were shocked but happy. We had been married for less than 2 months, so it was expected but I think they had hoped we would wait a bit longer. However, in our hearts we knew that God was calling us to be parents and we weren't going to interfere with his plan – not that we had a choice in that matter.

I quickly booked a doctor’s appointment and began doing some online research. I read hundreds of baby forums, and learned all about all the diseases and complications I needed to worry about. After seeing the miscarriage rates, we decided that we would wait until the 12th week to tell the rest of the world. At 5 weeks pregnant, just a few days shy of my doctor’s appointment, I woke up one morning to blood on the toilet paper. It was pink, and there wasn't much to it, but it was there. It was 4 am and I woke up my husband. I knew what blood at 6 weeks meant according to those pregnancy forums. It meant miscarriage. I sat in bed shaking for about an hour as my worried spouse tried to calm me down. After an hour and half, the bleeding stopped and I dozed off for an hour. I called the doctor first thing and the nurse told me to wait until my doctor’s appointment, and that if I was miscarrying there was nothing they could do for me.

I spent the weekend crying and praying that everything was fine. I read online and found out that 1 in 3 pregnancies experience some form of spotting or light bleeding. When my appointment finally came, the doctor was not too worried but sent me for some blood tests just to verify my hormone levels. I had to go 2 separate days to see if they were rising properly. At this point I was sure that everything was alright and things were progressing normally. Unfortunately, Friday afternoon I got a concerned call from my doctor. My hormone levels were rising, but way too slowly. She gave me two options to prepare for, a miscarriage, or an ectopic pregnancy. I had to go in for an ultrasound first thing Monday morning to see what was going on. I was upset and I couldn't believe this was happening to us and to our baby. The weekend went by and I spent most of it crying and praying and yelling at God and then pleading with Him. I didn’t know what to do and I really truly felt like there was nothing going on in my womb, that the baby was passing or had already passed.

When Monday morning came, I was shaking I was so scared. We sat in the waiting room while women with big pregnant bellies went by us. I told my husband that someday we would come here and it would not be for bad news.

We got into the exam room and the technician rubbed the gel on my belly as I braced myself for the bad news. After some searching, the ultrasound technician pointed to a little cashew in my belly and announced she could see a heartbeat. She took measurements, assured us it was not ectopic and let us hear the beautiful sound of a strong and healthy heartbeat. I will never forget that moment. My husband and I were so relieved, so happy that our baby was doing fine and growing.

Today I am 15 weeks pregnant and I couldn’t be happier. My stomach is rounding out and our little miracle is starting to show to the outside world. Soon we will find out the sex, although we are thinking it will be a little boy.

During that week, I kept asking my mom why God was making my husband and I go through this. We are both practicing Catholics, we are involved in our parish, we give what we can and we kept our engagement as pure as we could. I felt like we were being punished for no apparent reason. However, looking back now I could see that there were things God needed me to learn.

First, I’ve always been pro-life, but not having been pregnant, it was hard to truly understand what the girls who decide to have an abortion go through. I was 6 weeks pregnant and I felt as though nothing was going on in there. It was important for me to understand that since some of those girls don’t believe that life begins at conception, AND they for sure don’t feel the life growing inside them, abortion would seem like a respectable decision. I know that someday, what I went through will help someone understand that there is truly a life growing inside them.

Second, before pregnancy I never thought about miscarriage. I knew it happened to some women but I never thought it would happen to me. However, miscarriages are a lot more common than we think but women usually keep quiet about them. As Catholics, I think we need to rethink the way we respond to women who have suffered miscarriages because we believe that life begins at conception and therefore that woman has lost her child. We need to stop saying things like “You will have another one” or “God wanted the child for himself”, because those grieving women do not want another child they want the one they had. They are suffering the same as a mother who has lost her 2 year old child, even if they did not know that baby out of the womb. If we believe that the child in utero is truly a life, than we need to respond with a lot more compassion and give them more support.

Third, God is completely in charge of bringing life into the world. There is nothing I can do and I have to trust that He knows what’s best. That is scary to me because I’m such a control freak. But I’m starting to grasp that God is giving me these children to love and educate, but ultimately they will always belong to Him first. I think that I will always need to remember that as my family gets larger and my children get older.

I know there’s probably more to the experience but I think it will take time for me to see it. One thing is clear to me however, my husband and I always wanted a big family, but this has definitely re-enforced our beliefs when it comes to openness to life and leaving God some room to work within our family.