Saturday, June 30, 2012

My dinner "oops"...... also known as Greek-inspired quinoa salad

I kind of accidentally screwed up my planned dinner side dish last night.   I had planned on making this  Feta and Watermelon Quinoa Salad that a friend had sent me the link to.....but then I accidentally left one of the needed ingredients off of my grocery shopping list and didn't realize it until about, oh, 2 minutes before dinner was needing to be ready.

What's a girl to do?

Well....once a Girl Scout, always a Girl Scout.  What do I do when I don't have everything for a recipe?   I make one up, instead.   Sometimes it works (Yay!) it doesn't (Boo!).

Last night's worked!  I give you my new favourite summer salad....  

Greek-inspired Quinoa Salad


1 cup uncooked quinoa
1.5 cups water
about 1/2 cup - 3/4 cup grape tomatoes (I used yellow, because that's what I had on hand.  Feel free to use regular red ones instead!)
2 tablespoons capers
1/3 cup feta cheese crumbles


about 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (I eyeballed this, so feel free to add more or less)
2 garlic cloves, minced
juice of one lemon (about 2 tbsp in my case, but 3 tbsp would be fine, too)
1/4 cup finely chopped minted parsley

In a medium sized saucepan, toast the quinoa for a few minutes.  Add water, all at once, and then lower to a simmer.  Cover and let simmer for about 12 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed.  Remove from the heat, and fluff with a fork.  I put it directly into a bowl that I had pulled out for the salad, so it could cool more slowly.

While the quinoa is cooling, dice your tomatoes.    Throw them into the quinoa.  Add the capers.

In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing.   Once the quinoa mixture is cool, add the feta cheese, and toss the entire thing with the dressing.

Guess what?

You're done.  That's it.   I served it at room temp (remember, I was kind of scrambling for a side dish at this point!), but I stuck the leftovers into the fridge after dinner last night.   I can tell you, from personal experience, it tastes as delicious cold and out of the fridge as it did freshly made last night.*  What does this mean?   Well, my blog-o-sphere means that this is a super simple side dish that can be taken to any Fourth of July party/cookout that you attend!   

You're welcome.

*(Yes, I did just devour the leftovers as a mid-afternoon snack.   Quinoa is good for you.  I don't feel guilty in any way.....)

Friday, June 29, 2012

Quick Takes - the NFP edition

Thank you to Jen for hosting!


I missed last week's quick takes - sorry, y'all!   Mike and I were in Michigan, and I tried to get on the computer to do it for both this blog and the adoption blog, but well...I was being stalked by someone else in the hotel lobby who apparently REALLY wanted the computer, and I had to be quick.   Back to normal this week!


You've probably noticed the addition to today's post heading - the NFP version.   Whether you are a NFP fan or not, that's what today's quick takes are about!   You can thank Marc, from BadCatholic for that.   Why?  Because he's just launched (with a group of friends/compatriots) an awesome NFP-awareness website called 1Flesh and you NEED to go check it out.  After posting it on my FB page last night, my wall kind of exploded.   I realized that there's A LOT of confusion about what NFP is, what the Church actually teaches, and even who are the biggest NFP proponents. have this quick takes.


So, what exactly IS NFP (or Natural Family Planning, if you didn't know what NFP stood for)?   NFP is a method of fertility awareness.  There are multiple different options, my favourite few being the Creighton Model, Billings Ovulation Method, Sympto-Thermal, and the Marquette Method.  NFP no longer means "the calendar method" that so many of us made fun of - this is real science, folks.  There's  an option for everyone, based on your own personal cycles and symptoms and what you are looking to achieve (correct a disorder, achieve pregnancy, avoid pregnancy, etc).   If you're addicted to peeing on sticks like so many of us women are, there's even a method for you!!   (if you've never had the opportunity to be possibly pregnant, you may not understand this comment, just fyi)


So why the 1Flesh website, you may be wondering?   Well, they said it best on their "Rebellion" page, which I've been given permission to reproduce. Check it out (remember that you can click on it to make it bigger - or click on THIS LINK to read the original):


While a guy who blogs under the name BadCatholic is obviously, well, Catholic, this movement is NOT a movement within the Catholic Church.   So, for a minute here, separate the knee-jerk reaction you might be having against NFP with your own personal dislike of Catholicism.   The two are intimately connected in the Catholic world, yes, but  NFP is not a Catholic-only idea/method.    It's based in science (like I said before), and there seems to be an awakening of sorts amongst the medical world, realizing that it is actually good medicine.  Why?    Because those of us in this generation, the one just above us, and the one just below us (so, really, we're talking an age spread from about 15-50) are realizing just how much we were lied to about the wonders of hormonal birth control.    

 Personally, I was told (at age 16), that birth control was the best - and only - option that I had to fix the extremely painful ovulation that I'd been experiencing (it would make me miss school - my mom even rushed me to the doctor multiple times).    I finally gave in a couple of years later when the campus OB/GYN at the college I was attending told me the same thing.    It seemed to work - my pain was gone!   But you know what?  The minute I stopped taking pain returned, full force.    It didn't fix  anything.    My painful ovulation - debilitating pain - was still there.  Birth control did nothing to fix it .... but it did everything to put me at risk for medical complications and health risks that were never discussed in depth.  Was I told about cancer risks during my 5 years on the pill?  Nope.  Not once - and I went to multiple doctors for prescriptions.    Will I ever lose those risk factors, even now, that I've been birth control free for years?  Nope.  I will forever be at risk for something I didn't even know I was agreeing to.    Women just like me are waking up and demanding better health care.   We deserve it.


Now, before anyone reads my last quick take and assumes that I'm angry about my OWN personal doctors' lack of giving me information about the risks......I'm not.   I know it might sound contradictory, but I'm not mad at my doctors for failing to properly inform me about the risks associated with hormonal birth control and the awesome alternative found in things like NFP and NaProTechnology.   Why?  Because I can tell you - from watching my own husband complete his OB/GYN training - that the medical world ignores it.    There are a ton of theories out there as to why (mainly revolving around the major money that pharmaceutical companies make and put into hormonal birth control), but I'm not going to get into those.   What I will talk about is the lack of proper eduction for our medical providers in the way of NFP awareness.   They are not taught the different method options.   They are not exposed to NFP as a treatment option.   They do not receive information regarding NaProTechnology and its treatment protocols for various feminine disorders.  What are they taught?   They are taught that hormonal birth control is God's gift to women, and it will cure whatever ails their patients.  The risks are glossed over in the guides/information given to the physicians.   For a physician (especially a resident) who is working 40-80 hours a week....they have to rely on the information provided to them.   When that information is flawed, or even nonexistent - like it is in regards to Natural Family Planning - they are not able to incorporate it into their own practice of medicine.   So is it my doctors that I'm upset with for my own lack of medical care?   No.  It's the system that they are working within - the one that throws NFP out the window without even looking at it first.

Things seem to be changing though, praise the Lord!   Medical training programs around the country are moving into an NFP-aware model of medical practice.    The rise of NFP-only or NFP-friendly doctors is happening at almost a lightning speed.     The number of patients that are seeking out NaProTechnology is growing, as more and more people start speaking out about their own treatments.  Each class at the Pope Paul VI Institute (where NaPro  and the Creighton Model is taught to medical professionals) is larger than the one before.    With our help - and movements like 1Flesh - women could finally start getting the care that they deserve!!


Now, most people associate NFP with the Catholic Church, that is true.   The Catholic Church has unwaveringly taught the evils of contraception for 2000 years - everyone thinks they "know what the Church says" about birth control and NFP.    But do you really know?

Have you read Humanae Vitae?    You should.  It very clearly discusses birth control.   Very, very good stuff here - so much good stuff that I cannot possibly copy and paste all that you need to see.   Just  take my word for it - click on the link and be amazed.  

Contraception (and by this, I mean anything that prevents conception - so barrier methods, "pulling out", artificial birth control, etc) is inherently evil, according to the Catholic Church.   Why?  Because according to the Catholic Church (and biology, really - this has been proven, multiple times in multiple studies), there are two purposes of sex.   First of all, sex is unitive - it creates a bond between man and woman (ideally husband and wife, in the Church).   We all have seen the studies/reports that state that sexual intercourse produces a chemical reaction in the brain that leads to bonding.  Sex, by it's very nature, is designed to bond two people together.  Secondly, sex is procreative.  Basic biology shows us this - how does the human race reproduce?  By having sex.   The sexual act is ordered towards reproduction - it's biological goal is the continuation of the human species.

So, by natural design, not just by Catholic teaching, the purpose of sex is two-fold:  it unifies and procreates.    Why does the Church teach that contraception is immoral?   Because it separates these two purposes of sex, as a way of selfishly reducing sex to only pleasure.    With contraception, the procreative aspect of sex is thrown out of the window, going directly against God's design for sex.   Any time we directly choose to go against God's design or will.....would be the definition of a sin.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines sin as 

"Sin is an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law (St. Augustine, Faust 22:PL 42, 418). It is an offense against God. It rises up against God in a disobedience contrary to the obedience of Christ."  (CCC 1871)

Going against God's plan for sex?   A deed contrary to eternal law, and disobedience to God's design.   Therefore....contraception, the Church teaches, is a sin.

So why is NFP not a sin?   To understand this, you have to understand just what NFP is and what it is not.   Can NFP be used with a contraceptive mindset?  Sure.  But it is not designed that way.   I've already talked waaaaayyyyyy too much on this quick takes (um, not quick at all - sorry!), so I'm going to let Leila take it from here.   Go check out her explanation to why NFP is not "Catholic Contraception."  It's good, it's quick, and it's clearly written.

-- 7 and 1/2 --

This ties into #7, so I'm adding it in.   All of this NFP awesomeness probably would not be front and center in so many internet places, or radio shows, or news articles, or at playdates, etc, if it weren't for the horrible HHS Mandate.   The fight against this breech of religious freedom is not over.   You can still help - and here is how.   

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Fun in the desert..

...comes in the form of our sprinkler system being fixed, finally.  (Hopefully our grass will start to recover!).

So what did we do to celebrate?  We played in the sprinklers, of course!   Daddy even got in on the fun!

(click on the picture to make it bigger)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A picture's worth a thousand words....

...especially if it is a picture created by your child in his attempt to express himself.  :-)

The boys are allowed free reign of basic arts and crafts supplies (paper, watercolours, tape, glue, scissors, old magazines, etc), and as soon as they are finished with their schoolwork, they can spend however much time they'd like creating whatever they'd like.   Recently, the project has been to create their own individual "art galleries" on their bedroom walls.   

Without any further delay, I give their first gallery exhibition (click on the picture to see it in a larger size)...

Rascal #1:


Rascal #2:

Rascal #3 has been cheering from the sidelines, and patronizing each new display.  :-)

I enjoy watching the boys create, find new ways of making something beautiful, and the pride they take in their creations.   It makes me smile.  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Great Expectations

" When you expect things to happen -- strangely enough -- they do happen."

-John Pierpont Morgan

About a week ago, Mike and I took a trip to Maine.  We had a lot of things going on during that trip - and so many people to try and see! - but one of the main reasons we went back to Maine that weekend was to be able to attend the high school graduation of a very special group of teens.   Most of the World Youth Day group that I blogged about before were graduating over this weekend in June, and we wanted to be there to support them.

As I sat watching each of them cross the stage to receive their diploma, I got to thinking about expectations.    After returning to Arizona, that word - expectation - has shown up in multiple conversations, emails, phone calls, blogs, books.  You name the media format, and it seems like that word has made an appearance in some way.  

Now, I know I'm biased, but I truly believe that this group of teens is and was an exceptional one.    I sat there, trying to figure out what made them so extraordinary, and it hit me: 

They were expected to be.

This group of teens were expected - by their parents, by me, by their school - to be extraordinary human beings.   The bar was set pretty high for them:  they were expected to do their best to live an authentically Catholic life, and to excel at school and extracurricular activities by all those who surrounded them.

If there was a problem....they were expected to try to find a way to solve it.

If there was a choice to be made between vice and virtue....they were expected to reach for virtue.

If they witnessed a wrong....they were expected to try to make it a right.

And you know what?

They did it.   Sure, there were stumbles here and there along the way, but overall, these teens did it.  They excelled in every way possible, and they lived their faith, as best they could.  They encouraged those around them to do the same.

Now, I can't take any credit for any good that they did.   I was only the one trusted to supervise them a few hours a week and a weekend-long retreat here and there.  Their parents, families, and community are the real reason for their achievements.   But as I sat there, watching them leave high school behind, I realized that although all of their families came from different backgrounds and different resources, they had one thing in common:  they expected excellence.

There are some people out there who argue that expecting excellence is dangerous, that it sets one up for future failures and a lifetime of guilt.  I disagree, wholeheartedly.   Without high expectations - without "raising the bar" - how will we achieve excellence?

If we set the bar too low.....will we never leave the ground?

I expect a lot out of my kids, I realize that.   I expect them to aspire to be the best them that they can possibly be, because I know they can do it.  I have faith in their abilities, because they are a reflection of a all-perfect God.    For some of them, that might mean academic excellence.  For others, that might mean athletic achievements.  For others, it might be living as the hands and feet of Christ.  Only God knows what He has called each of us to....but it is up to us to desire to and aspire to living out that calling to the best of our ability.

How can we do that if we are only reaching for a passing grade?   How can we be the person God has called us to be if we aren't looking up towards that goal?  

When you expect mediocrity, you will never get great things. 

God has gifted each of us with amazing talents and abilities, including you.   We are called to use those gifts to glorify Him, and by doing so, allow Him to work amongst us.   

Do you try to meet that expectation?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Quick takes, vol 4

Thank you to Jen for hosting! 


I'm sitting here, trying to write this Quick Takes while watching House Hunters International.  I should be sleeping, but I can't stop watching.  They're in Lima, Peru, which is one of those places I've always wanted to visit.  I can't seem to turn it off.


I'm pooped.  This quick takes are probably going to be totally disjointed.  We took an crazy quick trip this weekend, from Arizona all the way over to Maine for a long weekend.  Then, we jumped right back into normal life with our normal, crazy schedule, and my body is falling behind.  I did manage to get on the treadmill and run today, but wasn't pretty.


But I HAD to get on the treadmill and run.  My first 5k is coming up quickly (in a little over a month!), and my goal is to actually RUN the entire 5k.  I've walked/jogged them before, but I'd really like to actually run one from start to finish this time.  I've got to keep working towards that goal, even though all I want to do is sleep!


On a good note, our quick trip to Maine was fabulous.  Saw great friends, drank some Polar seltzer water (YUM), did some LL Bean shopping, and stayed in an adorable bed-and-breakfast.    It was a great trip. 



Proof of #4.


I'm proud of Rascal #1 and #2 - they are both starting a competitive gymnastics season, and they're both excelling.   Rascal #1 is currently the "gymnast of the month" at the gym, and Rascal #2 has been the gymnast of the day (their coach chooses one gymnast each practice who really worked hard that day) for the past two practices.  They're really loving gymnastics, and I'm proud of them for working so hard!


The boys got into the recycling bin the other day and created a new friend/robot.   I love their creativity!!!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Quick takes, vol 3 - Thank you edition!

Thanks to Jen for hosting!


I'm still working on a post to explain and detail everything that happened last week (and the week before).  For the first time in a really long time - maybe ever? - I actually have posts in the draft section of this blog.   I'll eventually get them written up completely.  For now, though, I just want to send out a few little shout-outs to those who helped during that chaos.  We never would have been able to do it alone!!


First and foremost, I have to thank  my awesome husband for really stepping it up oh, about 25 notches, to take care of me and the boys during the chaos.   He not only did an awesome job filling my own role as well as his own, but he did it while doing his regular job out of the house, too (and doing it well).   So, thanks, Mike, for everything you did to take care of us!!  I love you!


At one point during the entire ordeal, I ended up getting a treatment of acupuncture from Dr. John Oertle.   It was a great experience, and a tremendous help relieving the pain I was in.  Thanks so much, Dr. Oertle, for getting me in so quickly and taking such good care of me!!  Check out his practice, here. 


Many, many friends helped out during the whole week, but I have to thank a few specifically.  These guys managed to jump in and take care of my boys at any given moment, so that I could go see another doctor, or go get another test, or just rest without having to watch Cars 2 again.   They were a huge help, and we could NOT have gotten through without them!!  So, major thanks go out to Bill, Lore, Allie, and Amanda for all of the child care help!!


Mike is in a small practice, and we never could have gotten through without the entire staff at his office.  From helping me manage all the different appointments and providing referrals for specialists to helping Mike be with me for all the different tests and appointments, the office at Morning Star OB/GYN was outstanding.  Thank you to so many of you who helped Mike be able to be with me and taking care of me (and the boys) so incredibly smoothly.  Thank you so very much!!


We had an unbelievable amount of support that came in the way of food over the week - long chaos.  From Coleen, who filled our fridge and freezer with groceries, to Tricia who came over and cooked us dinner, to Alison who dropped off yummy Dream Dinners meals....we were never lacking for food and never had to stop everything to get to the grocery store.   It was a huge blessing!   So, thank you so much, ladies!  

If you can, go check out Alison's blog and show her some love.   She and her husband are in the midst of adopting a Baby Girl with spina bifida, who will be born in about a month.  Read the story and check out her adoption boutique!  She's making beautiful necklaces to finance the adoption - you know you want one!!


Last but not least, we had an amazing dentist who ended up solving the mystery of what was wrong with me, and put his own life on hold to take care of my tooth.   (Can I just say that I NEVER thought I'd ever be excited to get a root canal done, was probably the highlight of the week!!).   Anywho, I am very grateful to Dr. Gailey at Gateway Family Dentistry for his great care and compassion!  If you are in the area and are looking for a dentist, I cannot recommend his practice highly enough!!  

Even Rascal #1 got in on the act, writing Dr Gailey his own thank - you note....check it out:


Thursday, June 7, 2012

A little trip down memory lane....

....all because I ran out of soap in the shower.  

Seriously.  I ran out of soap, and hadn't made it to the store yet to get new I dug around until I found a couple of travel size bottles of body wash.   The instant I opened it up and squeezed some onto the washcloth, I had one of those smell-induced trips down memory lane.   I thought I'd share.   :-)  It's been a long time since our last blogging adventure, and I'm still working on a post explaining the absence and all that happened during the chaos that was the past two weeks, so bear with me for a little bit.  We're going to have a very picture-heavy post, full of memories...

You see, the travel soap I found just so happened to be the one I took to World Youth Day in August. 

I still don't quite have the right words to describe all that we saw and did during that 12 day pilgrimage.  So many new places and people (and flags, apparently!),  and more than anything else - a personal experience with the Body of Christ.   We truly are a universal Church -- and it was so evident during that entire 12 days.

Bring on the pictures!

Our gang - we had one of the youngest groups there, but they never let it stop them!

Ahh, Fatima, how I loved you....

Fatima again - preparing us with a glimpse of the universal Church

First thing that comes to mind when I think of WYD and Madrid?  Random street parties and dancing, usually instigated by the Brazilians.....

This guy made me think of Luke 19: 2-4:  "Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, 3was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature. 4So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way."

The vigil:  just a sleepover with 2 million of my closest friends....

Our accidental B16 sighting (and blessing!  Woot!)  Such a great moment - we didn't know he'd be heading out along this route and just happened to be there as he went by.  :-)

I was hoping that our little picture trip down memory lane would give me enough time to find words to describe WYD......but it hasn't.   I'll let Bad Catholic do it for me: