Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wifey Wednesday: You May Not Agree

You may not agree with the Catholic Church's view on birth control, but surely you believe in science. Look at these two articles on the dangers (for women) and the strange correlation with dementia (for men) with our modern methods of birth control. for dangers to women using birth control. for keeping up with the research on the correlation between vasectomy and non-Alzheimer dementias.

When you've read through that, then you might want to look into the natural alternatives to artificial birth control methods.

We Moderns function on the assumption that birth control and abortion are new, an evolution of science and social thought and that The Church simply can't keep up. Let me assure you that the only thing our modern age has done with the birth control industry is to mainstream and legitimize it. A woman's body has long been rendered more convenient by chemically and surgically crippling a healthy, functioning system of her body (because, really, abstaining for three days or so a month is beyond the pale). The irony of the oxymoron of sterile sex is lost on those who want to reduce the mind-blowing entirety of sex to mere orgasm.

But, hey, it's only a blog. You don't like it, don't read up on it. Take your Class 1 Carcinogen, sweetheart, and quit complaining about those nasty little side effects, will you?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Because it is Monday

...and I usually do my shopping on Monday.

Passive Agressive Gaming seems so Monday to me.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Five Years Ago Today

It was a dark and stormy night five years ago. The remnants of Hurricane Dolly were descending upon Amarillo and we were on our way to the hospital. After the storm and the water broke, we came face to face with our Sylvia for the first time.

She's a bit bigger now than she was back then.

That's supposedly Cinderalla's shoe and crown on the cake there.

Sisters waiting semi-patiently for the above mentioned cake.

The pre-candle pose.

Singing the birthday song to the birthday girl!

The Martin Girls in art and in real life!

A favorite present from Maga arrived in time for the party!

She's ready to take on the world!
Happy birthday to my little Big Girl!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Not Good Enough (A Post a Day #6)

Jennifer Fulwiler at Conversion Diary came up with this idea of challenging her fellow bloggers into posting every day for a week. It was supposed to get your blogging grove going while taming that inner perfectionist that is never satisfied enough to actually hit the "Publish" button.

For the most part, it's been easy for me this week. Today, Day #6, is the first day that I've sat down and wondered why I signed up for this. I'm busy, after all. That's my go-to excuse lately, but that's just my excuse. My real reason is that inner demon who tends to turn anything I do into an accusation of me or it being "not good enough."

I'm not unique in this. Everyone has to face down this particular demon. We're all continually telling ourselves we're not good enough to make the grade, fit in, get that raise, or deserve any kind of love or respect. The Self-Esteem Movement of the 90s was rather silly, but it was custom made to address those inner insecurities.

Let me let you in on a little, middle aged secret. To combat that lying inner voice that is constantly belittling you and your efforts, you do exactly what I'm doing here. You leap. You forge ahead. You act as if that voice didn't exist. You behave as if you were confident, or deserving, or competent and then simply do whatever that voice is trying to stop you from doing.

That's the cure. The voice never goes away, really, but he has to change his tune after a success or two. Then it says, "That was good, so good, in fact, that you'll never measure up to that level again. Better quit now." The same cure applies.

So, since I answered Jennifer's challenge, I would like to challenge you. If you've got something in you and you've been allowing it to be bullied out of existence by the "Not Good Enough"s, it's time to leap. Let whatever it is that is in you be born. Let it breathe a bit.

Some things worth doing are worth doing badly. Just do it. You can always spiffy things up much better after they actually exist.

Friday, July 26, 2013

7 Quick and Cranky Takes

--1-- The Day Started with a Bad Attitude

While setting the table for breakfast, "I should take a nap."

After the workout, "I deserve a nap."

Staring at the lunch dishes, "I'd rather nap."

--2-- Interrupted by a Bright Moment: Mr. Baby's First Walk

We went for a quick family walk. The baby smiled in his sleep and it was lovely, peaceful, and bonding to have us all out walking and enjoying the cool summer morning.

--3-- And then came chores, and I was all...

"I'm doing all the work here, ya' lazy spray bottle!"

--4-- I had to catch up on the laundry

By the third load I was like, "The laundry is against me."

--5-- And cook.
"Et tu, hot sauce?"

--6-- Of course, I had leftovers to take care of.


--7-- By the end of the day I realized

Oh, yeah. It's time for Confession.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Strawberry Banana Muffins (A Post a Day #4)

Nothing heavy or profound today, I'm simply doing my duty. I know better than to bring up a recipe without posting it first, but this time I honestly thought I'd shared it before. It's one of our breakfast items that we have irregularly because of all the sugar. It's very, very good, though probably bad for you.

Our last batch was grilled, so I'm giving the grilling baking instructions, as promised.

Strawberry Banana Muffins

4 eggs, beaten
2 cups sugar
2 cups frozen strawberries
2 mashed bananas
1 cup oil
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 dash nutmeg

Prepare the coals on the grill (if using an oven, preheat to 350 degrees). Grease 3 muffin tins.

Mix dry ingredients. In an electric mixer combine eggs, sugar, strawberries, bananas, and oil. Beat on medium speed until the batter turns pinkish (about 3 minutes). Add the flour mixture and stir by hand until flour is moistened. Do not over mix.

Fill muffin tins 3/4 full. If you run out of batter and have leftover muffin spaces in the tin, fill the blank spots 1/2 full with water to ensure an even bake of the surrounding muffins. (If baking in oven bake 20 to 25 minutes.)

If the charcoal bricks evenly gray with no flame, arrange the coals to the outer edge of the grill. Place muffin tins in the center so that they are not directly over the coals. Bake approximately 20 minutes. Prop open or close the grill lid to regulate the temperature. You want it approximating 350 degrees. Increase or decrease time accordingly. Muffins are done if a toothpick inserted in the center of the center muffin tests dry.

P.S. I can't seem to keep these around long enough to get a decent picture.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

3 Reasons You Should Schedule Date Nights (A Post a Day #3)

As is my usual I'm going to write on how I get it wrong so that you can get it right. One of the many ways I tend to take my marriage for granted is by shirking our Date Night.

We have endless reasons for not scheduling in a Date Night. Here are the top three...

#1  We can't afford it. Seriously, after paying for a babysitter, gas to get to town, and then dinner, we're looking at a considerable investment of family resources in order to go out each week. Instead of trying to find cheap date ideas, we tend to chuck the whole plan.

#2 We don't have the time. Like everyone, we're over committed and over stressed. By the time we get around to even thinking about going out, we're exhausted. Again, instead of looking at this time as a chance to recharge and reconnect, we tend to skip out.

#3 We take it and each other for granted. If we happen to find ourselves alone on the odd trip to the grocery store, we count it as our date. Yeah, we really do.

As Sheila Wray Gregoire over at To Love Honor and Vacuum puts it:

Your marriage is the best weapon you have in your arsenal to get through life. It is marriage that makes us feel like we can take on the world.

So why wouldn't my husband and I invest the time and money in keeping connected? It's just that if we aren't careful we take the easy way out. In other words, it's easier to take one another for granted than it is to actually and purposefully cherish one another.

Here's 3 Reasons to Stop Making Excuses and Get Out There and Flirt in Public

#1 You can't afford not to. There is too much at stake to risk losing touch. Your spouse is the most important person in your life, second only to God. At the very least, investing the time and some of your finances in a weekly date proves the priority. We value what we invest in. That can be read in two ways. When we value something we put our time and money into it. In the other sense, once we have invested time and money into something, it increases in value in our hearts and minds. We're just funny that way. Prove to yourself how much you need and desire each other by putting your precious time and money toward something you truly consider precious, each other.

#2 It's a great way to reset. Parenting, working, housekeeping all take their tole on our psyches. Life makes big demands. In order to meet those demands, you and your honey have to be on top of your game. A date is a great way to recharge your batteries. Flirting, laughing, even a simple change in surroundings and a chance to breathe without the demands of home and children for an hour or two will restore you both. You will be reconnected and better able to present a united front to the challenges of every day. Also, the break will give you a chance to catch your breath and catch up a bit. There's nothing quite like a good laugh and some hand holding to remind you of how cute that fella of yours is.

#3 It's fun! Who doesn't need the fun! The kids will tease you about wanting to go, but deep down they are excited that their parents are still in love enough to date. It's all part of the married couple dating ritual. Enjoy that, too. On the date, you will laugh. He will make eyes at you. You might know. Every day you face the world together, life's a struggle. To be able to face it together, it is paramount that you also get a chance to relax and let your hair down together. He's a great guy. Take a break each week to remind yourself of how great. Have fun with that man of yours.  You won't regret it!

Here's some cheap date ideas over at Focus on the Family. I think I want to try that one where you don a fake accent for zee een-ti-yurrr date-uh!

This has been a Wifey Wednesday post. For an even Wifey-er Wednesday, click on through to To Love Honor and Vacuum.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Post a Day #2: Bad Fatherhood

Many of the fathers I know are wonderful at their vocation. They are firm in their self-discipline and strive to instill that gift into their children. This post isn't about them. It's about a type of father who is becoming much more prevalent in our self-serving, media saturated culture.

The other day I had an appointment with Mr. Baby and happened to witness two males who were fathers in the loosest sense possible: they'd reproduced. One man was so tethered to his iPhone that the mother of his child had to hold not only the baby's carrier but the father's hand to drag him through the office. He never even looked up. The other man parked a car and never got out of it. He let the mother of his children lug a baby carrier out of the car. To be fair he "helped" by unbuckling another child, a toddler, and setting him outside the car on the street. He held on to the boy's arm until mom came around the back of the car, but then he just let go of him. When the boy fell down, dad took that opportunity to shut his car door before the kid got up again. Dad of the Year didn't even bother getting out or even reaching down to right his child. Mom took the two children in on her own. Dad whipped out his phone before they were even across the street.

Both of these men were so involved in pleasuring themselves that they were blind to the needs of the families they'd created. Both were so buried in a false world inside their phones that they couldn't see the world around them, a world where women, the very women they shared a bed with, were struggling with baby gear and doors.

Both of these women had found and presumably fallen in love with infantilized men. What could possibly be so wrong in their lives that this type of man would be attractive in the first place, and how in the world will they cope with the fall out of such abysmal fathers for their children?

I just don't know. All I know is I see more of this type of father all the time, men who are checked out. I don't know the cause, but I usually try to end my pieces with a bit of hope or a call to duty. I'm falling a bit short of ideas here. The only thing I can think of to cure this type of failure in fatherhood is to pray. Otherwise, at least for the lives of those children I saw, the future looks grim.

Monday, July 22, 2013

A Post a Day #1: Newborn Love

Since Mr. Baby arrived two weeks ago, sleep has been scarce. We're a little used to that, but each time we go through the process, there's a bit of an adjustment and some complaining to do. For those of you new to parenting, let me pass this bit of advice a seasoned mother passed on to us when we were new parents:

Sleep is overrated and under appreciated.

You can function just fine on much less sleep than you'd think. You can also manage to get up and go when you have to. You will also realize a true sense of gratitude for a solid four hour stretch of sleep. Indeed, you will be more grateful for less sleep than you ever thought possible. Sleep is wonderful. Parenting will teach you that, if nothing else.

What does this have to do with the title, you may be wondering? 

A newborn teaches a parent so many things. First of all, he teaches you about sleep by depriving you of it. Mostly, though, he teaches you how to love. In our culture, love is understood as an emotion, a twitterpation of the hormones. In reality, love is a lot less about hormones and a lot more about deciding to love.

Parenting a newborn is like attending a parenting Boot Camp.

Parenting a newborn is parenting boot camp. Your life is suddenly transformed, you find yourself in the middle of new demands for physical and mental endurance. You've got a lot to learn in a short amount of time. You come out of those first few months transformed.

The world's best description of true love is described in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8
Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoings but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails...

Who better to teach you patience, kindness, bearing, hoping, and enduring than a helpless, demanding newborn? This stage of parenting is tough. Your nights are endless. Each moment is likely to be interrupted by a cry. There's many a new parent who wonders what in the world have they signed up for?!

What does a newborn teach us? Don't worry so much about your feelings. Worry more about the beloved than yourself. Suffer a bit for the sake of her. Trust that this moment will pass. Trust that there is more in you to give.

Oh fine! I'll do it, but first tell me when I will fall in love with my baby! By doing all you can for him, by putting yourself second to her, you are proving your love rather than falling in it. Don't worry so much about your feelings. Those loving feelings might not come right away, or maybe they are there but you are too exhausted to recognize them. Just know that with all of the weight of your selflessness for this precious one behind it, when the feeling does announce itself to you, this love will be more intense than anything you can imagine.

Like all good loves, give it time and give it your all. Love Himself showed you how. Christ on the Cross teaches us that love is worth all you can give

and more...

No greater love than this...

Because it is Monday

Saturday, July 20, 2013

It's Summer; Let's Grill Everything!

My neighbor grills all summer long, and she doesn't limit herself to meats. She actually bakes on her grill, treating it as an outdoor oven. Her bread and homemade pizza are simply wonders of the summer.

So far, I've been slow to experiment with using my grill for anything other than slabs of chicken or beef, but today I grilled meatloaf and baked potatoes for our dinner and had plenty of coals left over. I decided to whip up tomorrow's breakfast muffins and set them baking. That, of course, reminded me that I had a birthday cake to bake, so why not?

By the time I got everything mixed up and on the grill, I was looking at needing to add more coals. That can be a problem midway through baking something on your grill. So, if you are going to try to use your grill as an outdoor oven, you must own one of these...

With a charcoal chimney, you can get the next set of coals ready without exposing your food to excess flame or starter fluid. When my second batch of coals was ready to add to my "oven," I moved all my muffin tins to one side of the grill, removed a grate, dumped in the hot coals, and then arranged them where they were needed.

Just so you know, Strawberry Banana Muffins are really good with a little smokey flavor adding a touch of savory to the sweet. I'll let you know tomorrow how the gluten free chocolate cake tastes grilled.

P.S. Blogger just informed me that I've not posted my Strawnanna Bread recipe. I'll get that up this week.

Friday, July 19, 2013

7 Quick Takes: Quick is a Relative Term

--1-- Nothing is "quick" around here...

With a newborn around, its a miracle we're not two hours late for anything. Who am I kidding? It's a miracle when I can make it to the bathroom on time.

--2-- Speaking of newborns!

Today his very first tears showed up. No more dry newborn tears for Mr. Baby! They grow up so fast! *sniff*

--3-- I'm taking a hiatus from the Garden of Holiness Podcast

I've contacted the folks at Deeper Truth to let them know, so this is my official first announcement. I've been called to be on team for an ACTS Retreat. The preparation for the retreat is 12 weeks. In order to say yes to this, I had to say no to something else. My primary vocation is to my family and as much as I enjoy blogging, podcasting, choir, and teaching, I am as busy as I can already be. For anything else to come into the schedule, something has to go out. A yes here means a no there.

If I don't set limits, I will be limiting my family. So, Deeper Truth has temporarily released me from my Podcasting with them so that I can serve on the ACTS Team. I'm excited. I will have one more podcast this month and then I will return in October.

Thank you friends at Deeper Truth!

--4-- Oh yeah, Milestones!

Anna knows all her letters and letter sounds. She's been reading, but there were gaps, so we went back to the basics twice and have switched programs (again). Hooked on Phonics did the trick. She is very musical and keeps the best time to music of any child I've ever met, so of course this program did wonders. It's very rhythmical. Yay!

--5-- I'm all blissy with family life and all that...

And I randomly check in on the blog and am surprised to see a huge spike in readership. That can only mean one thing, usually...SPAM! I checked into it and lo! It was not spam. These were honest to goodness guests to my blog, invited by Sheila Wray Gregoire from To Love Honor and Vacuum. She is all about marriage and I said a few things here that she liked and she sent a few (!!!) readers over to come look.

Here's a big Texas, "Hey!" to all the visitors. Don't mind the mess.

--6-- I have inspiring friends.

I go to a weekly One King meeting in Amarillo. Yesterday I brought Mr. Baby with me. We talked about fostering for a bit. Then one of the women asked if it would be okay if we, as a group, prayed for Mr. Baby's biological mother all week. It's more than okay. It's awesome.

--7-- God is good, but my editing skills are lacking.

Interrupted sleep will do that to a gal. So, if you don't mind, I will try to distract you from all the errors with the cuteness.

I call all my children "Bunny"

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wifey Wednesday

My husband and I are in that happy/tired state of blissfully getting to know and love a newborn. In our sleep deprived state, we are barely managing to eke out the routines of daily life as we learn to make room for the newest member of our family. It's all good. It's all worth it. Like all parents do, we're falling more deeply in love with each other as we fall in love with the baby, but as to working on the relationship? At this point, we're thrilled to find some time alone means we can nap!

This is one of those times that a couple doesn't rely on words to keep the marriage going. It's enough for the next few weeks to simply smile sleepily at one another in passing. It's in these moments of married life that couples are able to rely on the grace God pours into the Sacrament, knowing that soon enough, shortly enough, things will get back on track.

In the meantime, we will pray for one another. Sometimes keeping in touch with the Lord is the best way to ensure that you want to keep in touch with your husband, even while circumstances temporarily get in the way.

Speaking of...the baby is crying. Night everyone!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Taking a Quick Break So Here's 3 Quick Takes

Did I mention that the foster baby is a newborn? We've finally got him settled down to sleeping in 2 hour chunks, so my husband and I are able to get some REM sleep now. It's amazing how exhausted you get when you don't dream.

The other Martins in the house (the short ones) are insisting that the baby's nickname be Mr. Baby. Nobody was liking the number idea. He's Mr. Baby.

We can't post any pictures of the baby. One reason is simple courtesy to the child's birth families. Imagine going through the trauma of a removal and then seeing your child's face plastered all over a stranger's Facebook homepage. Another reason is that it is a foster agency rule. You'll just have to trust us when we say he's wonderful and worth every lost moment of sleep

Friday, July 5, 2013

7 Quick Takes: News and Stuff

--1-- It's a newborn!

We received the call. Tomorrow we get to meet our newest foster baby. We don't know if he is a he or a she yet. His or her blog code name, to maintain his or her privacy, is going to be Wee Baby Eleven!

--2-- Fireworks!

For the first time in five years, Simon and I managed to sit through a fireworks display. Ever since he was two, he's experienced a sensory overload at the noise, the flashes, the excitement of the crowd. This year he happily sat on my lap through it all! He's growing up!

--3-- Camping

We had our first backyard camp out. Though we were fairly certain Simon would do well with the change in sleeping arrangements, we wanted to be close to home just in case he needed to bail. He was a trooper! He snuggled into his sleeping bag and fell right to sleep.

We had a stew with tortillas for dinner and s'mores for dessert. In the morning, quesadillas and hot cocoa were on tap. We sang around the campfire and roasted marshmallows. We played campfire games. We were typical family campers and loved it.

I highly recommend it.

--4-- Taking care

It is wonderful beyond wonder to see your little ones turn into people you could admire. My dad is out doing errands and each of my older and more responsible kids is taking turns sitting quietly with my mom to be at her beck and call. Because of her breathing problems, she can't get up and get a drink of water or fetch a book easily. When alone, when she wants something, she will oftentimes just do without. They are chatting her up, reading, watching a cartoon, fetching her remote, refilling the ice in her glass. Simple stuff, really, but very sweet. Nothing helps you grow in love than serving your beloved. That Nana of theirs is much beloved, indeed.

--5-- Are we experiencing Liberation Fatigue?

If you want a (relatively) concise Theology of the Body or are simply wondering what went wrong in the Sexual Revolution, this article is excellent. Take a gander.


What We Lose When We Forget What Sex Is For
byJ. Budziszewski

Midnight. Shelly is getting herself drunk so that she can bring herself to go home with the strange man seated next to her at the bar.One o’clock.Steven is busy downloading pornographic images of children from Internet bulletin boards.Two o’clock.Marjorie, who used to spend every Friday night in bed with a different man, has been binging and purging since eleven.Three o’clock.Pablo stares through the darkness at the ceiling, wondering how to convince his girlfriend to have an abortion.Four o’clock.After partying all night, Jesse takes another man home, not mentioning that he tests positive for an incurable STD.Five o’clock.Lisa is in the bathroom, cutting herself delicately with a razor. This isn’t what my generation expected when it invented the sexual revolution. The game isn’t fun anymore. Even some of the diehard proponents of that enslaving liberation have begun to show signs of fatigue and confusion.

Read more:

--6-- Guardasil: If it doesn't do what it claims, what's it for? Profits?

Another article to look at

The Lead Vaccine Developer Comes Clean So She Can “Sleep At Night”: Gardasil And Cervarix Don’t Work, Are Dangerous, And Weren’t Tested

Author: Sarah Cain
Dr. Diane Harper was the lead researcher in the development of the human papilloma virus vaccines, Gardasil and Cervarix. She is the latest to come forward and question the safety and effectiveness of these vaccines.
She made the surprising announcement at the 4th International Public Conference on Vaccination, which took place in Reston, Virginia on Oct. 2nd through 4th, 2009.
Her speech was supposed to promote the Gardasil and Cervarix vaccines, but she instead turned on her corporate bosses in a very public way. When questioned about the presentation, audience members remarked that they came away feeling that the vaccines should not be used.
“I came away from the talk with the perception that the risk of adverse side effects is so much greater than the risk of cervical cancer, I couldn’t help but question why we need the vaccine at all.”  – Joan Robinson
Dr. Harper explained in her presentation that the cervical cancer risk in the U.S. is already extremely low, and that vaccinations are unlikely to have any effect upon the rate of cervical cancer in the United States. In fact, 70% of all H.P.V. infections resolve themselves without treatment in a year, and the number rises to well over 90% in two years. Harper also mentioned the safety angle.
All trials of the vaccines were done on children aged 15 and above, despite them currently being marketed for 9-year-olds. So far, 15,037 girls have reported adverse side effects from Gardasil alone to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (V.A.E.R.S.), and this number only reflects parents who underwent the hurdles required for reporting adverse reactions.
At the time of writing, 44 girls are officially known to have died from these vaccines. The reported side effects include Guillian BarrĂ© Syndrome (paralysis lasting for years, or permanently — sometimes eventually causing suffocation), lupus, seizures, blood clots, and brain inflammation. Parents are usually not made aware of these risks.
Dr. Harper, the vaccine developer, claimed that she was speaking out, so that she might finally be able to sleep at night.

--7-- Since you were wondering, here's how they made all those lovely colors in the sky last night...

Pure Chemistry

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Wifey Wednesday: Fitting it all in

I have been having trouble getting to the blog lately. Part of it is the business of running a family. Another part has been adjusting to the new demands of being sandwiched. Part of it, too, has been the demands of summer on a small farm, but most of it has been an inability to harness the thought process.

I sit down to the computer and have been unable to string a complete thought onto the screen. The words unravel and disperse into half formed sentences and awkward punctuation that only gets worse with editing. I know what I want to say, but I can't seem to spit it out.

My marriage is often like that. I get so distracted and busy, exhausted and pulled taut that every time I sit down to talk with my husband, nothing coherent comes out. I gibber on about this issue or that problem. I spout on about half formed plans. I blather around instead of talking about anything that fundamentally matters: our family, God, each other.

It's as if the distractions of every day life can act like a virus on the relationship. Busy-ness worms its way into the DNA of the day and writes its own code there, throwing us into a fever of activity and fretfulness.

So, what's the cure? For a Catholic, the best and probably least used cure is more frequent use of the Confessional. Nothing quite resets me like a frank and honest cataloguing of my sins and shortcomings. Another rarely used cure is the strong steady shoulder of my husband. Although I depend upon him daily for everything from opening a too tough jar to milking the goat with the crooked teat (I swear he's the only one who can manage that nanny without a milk shower or a hoof in the bucket.) I rarely just reach out for him in the heat of the fray and say, "Hold me."

The man's got a great set of shoulders to cry on, I can't imagine why I don't lean on them more. Over 13 years ago I signed on the dotted line to become a partner with him, what makes me insist upon so much self reliance? Pride, I'll bet. Lack of trust? I think I need to bring that question to Confession.

I'll do that as soon as I get my man to hold me up awhile.