Small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.


Memorial Day Weekend

I LOVE long holiday weekends. I took off work Sunday so I had four whole days to spend with my family. Nothing makes me happier than that.

Friday, Landon and I worked on our garden. Dad built two garden boxes out of cedar so we could have raised garden beds. The great advantage of these is that you don't have to bend down to garden, there are no weeds to worry about, and it has a great drainage system. The downfall is that it is small so space is limited. We picked up some watermelon, kale, carrots, peas, leeks, celery, Italian parsley, oregano, and rosemary. I left a spot for some sweet basil and garlic which the garden store didn't have at the time.

I'm not a gardener, so this year will be a test to see how everything grows. Gardening is something I'd like to do, but my time is always an issue and I'm just not sure I have the knack for it. Dad is building another one and has many other vegetables in the one he built for himself.  I plan to use a trellis to let the peas grow up once they start growing and we are hoping the watermelon will hang down. I'm hopeful that at least my herbs will stay alive and do well. Time will tell. Landon had some fun in the dirt, but didn't stay focused the entire time. He does really enjoying watering the gardens at night though.

Saturday we got up early and got dressed. For the first time ever Landon showed interest in his clothes and picked out a shirt he wanted to wear. He then proceeded to take off the shirt he had on and try to put this one on. No surprise it was his tractor shirt from Papa. He loves being a little farm boy.

Excuse my poor quality cell phone picture

We spent the rest of the day at Noni's house cleaning out the pool! It's a little late this year, but better late than never. It wasn't a particularly hot day, but running around in the sun got the boys hot so Adam started spraying him with the hose to cool them down. This turned into a big game for them. They loved it! What I love most about children is how innocent they are. Everything is fun and silly and they can turn anything into a good time. Once we got it drained it was time to start filling it up. The boys and Katherine were the first ones in this year.

In the deep end with just a little bit of water

By Monday morning the pool was full and last night the pump was turned on. So hopefully this coming weekend will be nice weather and we can finally enjoy the pool. This mama needs a tan!

Sunday, I was off so I was finally able to go to Sunday morning mass. I cannot wait to not be working Sunday's so I can do morning mass again. There is no better feeling than getting up and going to church first thing in the morning. It's always a little hard to get out of bed, but I ALWAYS feel so much better afterwards. Having gone to the Cathedral for so many years we are use to a big church, but the local church in the country is much smaller and very quaint. I actually really like it. What I miss most about the big churches is the music. Nothing compares to a stunning choir and organ. Still, there is something to be said for the community and quaintness in a small town church. After church, I helped my Dad work on cleaning out his garage. I'm on a mission to help him get organized while we live on his property. A month ago we worked on the carport and now that it is all cleaned out and organized we have turned our sights on the garage. We only got one side of his massive garage done, but it was the most intensive side and I think the rest of it will go pretty quickly. There is an unending amount of things to organize on this 45 acre farm, but we are making progress one place at a time.



Since Monday was Memorial Day, Dad invited us to go with him to a small wreath laying ceremony that his troop members were doing at the monument of the men that were killed in action in Vietnam. We decided to go mainly so Adam could take pictures for them. My Dad and the surviving members raised money three years ago to make this monument for all 92 men that were killed. I was barley pregnant with Landon when they had the dedication and it was a beautiful, elaborate ceremony. This was a much smaller ceremony with just a few local members and the first time I had been to the monument in almost three years. This ceremony was almost more touching than the original dedication. A prayer was read and the men laid the wreath. Afterwards, they stood at attention while they played a song in memory of their fallen brothers. I'm not very familiar with country music so I had never heard the song before and maybe that is part of why it was so touching. It was very hard to hold back the tears. As I watched My Dad and other retired military men stand at attention during this song I thought of the one of the readings at Mass this weekend from St. Paul's epistle to the Romans. It read;

"Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." - Romans 5:1-5

I cannot begin to understand how those men feel standing in front of the monument. The names on that monument mean very little to the people that walk by it everyday, but to the group of men standing before it, each careful etching represents friends and comrades; compatriots and heroes; men, fathers, sons, brothers, and husbands. No matter what the circumstances were surrounding their ultimate sacrifice, they all lost their lives protecting us at home. I know that for my Father and many of these surviving servicemen, it is the grace and glory of God that allows them to stand before that monument and salute their fallen brothers.

I am so happy we decided to go to this ceremony. It's amazing how much more you get out of everyday life when you do things that really matter. Going to church and the memorial ceremony were not the most exciting or fun things I could have done this weekend, but they were the most meaningful. We still made plenty of time to play, relax and enjoy the time off, but sometimes doing things that are fun all the time make life less important in a way. Taking a few hours out of the weekend to do things that are serious and meaningful add to our lives in ways that "hanging out" just cannot. I love that Landon thinks everything is fun and exciting at his age, but I hope that as he grows up we can teach him that there are some things in life that are more important and worth a little bit of our time. I definitely want  to start a tradition with Landon of going to a ceremony on Memorial Day so he can understand the importance of this holiday. I hope as he gets older he can understand the sacrifice that so many have made for our country.
Adam also reminded me of a very moving speech given by a very wise man many years go. It reads in part;

"But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth." - Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg

I found this video tribute to the song that was played at the ceremony Monday. It's a very touching tribute to all the fallen servicemen. Although nothing can do justice for their service, it's a good reminder to us all that our freedom comes at a price.


The Cleanse Begins

Wednesday was day 1. I woke up at 6am, weighed (ugh) and got ready. By 6:30 I was in the kitchen staring down the fiber drink packet. I put some cold water in a glass and opened the packet up. Everyone agrees it is gross so I wasn’t looking forward to this part of it. I opened it up and poured it in the water. I tasted a little of the powder left on the packet. Not bad, the flavor I got is 'peaches and cream'. I mixed it together really well and tried to gulp down as much as I could. It isn’t necessarily nasty, but it’s thick. It tastes sludgy and I really did struggle to make myself drink the entire glass. I never gagged, but it did leave a taste in my mouth that I didn’t like. I followed it down with 8 more ounces of water and a little bit of iced tea just to get the taste out. I’m not supposed to drink Ice tea during the cleanse, but I am drinking some in moderation. Its caffeine free and unsweetened, but I do add sweet-n-low. So right out the gate, I am breaking the rules. Oh well. 

On the way to work I had breakfast; A PB2 shake which consisted of one cup of almond milk and 2 tbps of PB2 chocolate. As I was leaving I checked the PB2 to make sure the only ingredient were peanuts and it’s not. I’ve been reading lots of blogs on this cleanse and I thought someone said you could have PB2 so I put it into my plan. I should have known better and I didn’t check the label ahead of time so sure enough it has sugar in it. Since I had already made my shake I went ahead and had it for breakfast, but I won’t be having anymore PB2. Lesson learned; check the ingredients.

In between breakfast and my AM snack I drank 22 ounces of water. Throughout the day I continued to drink 22 ounces of water every 2-3 hours. The goal was a gallon and I fell just under that. It is a lot of water to drink in a day, especially since I spend 8 hours sitting at my desk (which doesnt really help one work up a thirst). I must have peed every hour or more. I’ve decided that the worst part of the diet is the number of times you have to go into the bathroom at work. It’s not my favorite place to hang out and I’m actually keeping track today just to see how many times I go, because it seems constant. For an AM snack I had some strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and grapes. Easy, yummy snack! I drank 22 more ounces of water and then it was time for lunch. For lunch I made a spinach salad with grilled chicken strips and raspberry vinaigrette dressing. I also ate some roasted red pepper hummus with celery. It was good and filling and I never felt hungry. I drank another 22 ounces of water, went to the bathroom multiple times and then had a PM snack of cashews and fresh pineapple. Adam cut up a pineapple Tuesday night and I think it is the sweetest pineapple I have ever had here in KY. Hawaii has the most amazing pineapple in the world and this is pretty darn close. I can’t wait to have it again today. I drank another 22 ounces of water, got off work, picked up Landon, headed home, and started on dinner. 

For dinner I made THIS spicy chicken with asparagus. This recipes uses honey and I did make it as it is. Honey is off limits during the cleanse, but very little is used so I did it anyway. I also had a glass of iced tea at dinner as well. I’m so bad! We were finished eating by 6pm and since it was the season finale of Nashville I had to stay up for it. That means I didn’t go to bed until after 11pm. I found myself getting a little hungry around 8:30pm and by 9pm I knew I needed a little something or I would be starving by 10:30. This was the first time all day I had felt the least bit hungry, but it says to eat every 2-3 hours and I had been until this point. I had some tuna salad in the fridge that I had made Sunday and it’s only going to go to waste. I went ahead and had a few bites of it, even though it’s made with Mayo (the Olive Oil type). 

So basically I had little cheats all day long. I had a some iced tea, PB2, honey and a little bit of tuna with olive oil mayo. I feel like the things I cheated on were little and will not have an adverse effect on the cleanse. How do I know? Yesterday morning I was down 3.5 pounds! It was pretty surprising actually. I weighed 3 times and took a picture! Now, I think this just goes to show how much water weight I retain at times. My weight can fluctuate 2 pounds from one morning to the next and it was on the plus 2 pounds side yesterday anyway. While I’m ecstatic to already be down 3.5 pounds I think that is weight that I could, and probably will, easily gain back if I started eating normally again. Let's face it, I didn't lose 3.5 pounds of fat in one day. Overall, it was a pretty easy day. I imagined punching my desk partner as he ate his sweets ALL DAY LONG, I wanted to snatch the popcorn from the microwave in the breakroom, and I imagined how much better my salad would be with a little bit of feta cheese. But that's it.

Little things like that entered my head, but I never felt hungry. Yesterday morning I had a banana and cherry pie Lara Bar instead of the shake. I did have a little bit of a headache in the morning, but it was small and I feel fine otherwise. Other than switching out my breakfast I actually ate the exact same stuff for the rest of the day. It was all good and easy to do during work. Luckily, I am only working 2 more days of this entire cleanse. I know the time at home will be challenging since my husband will eat all kinds of yummy food in front of me, but it will also allow me plenty of time to prepare and try new foods which I am excited about. 

Wish me luck!


More Wisdom and Insight from Dennis Prager.

Another wonderful week with constant wisdom and insight from Dennis Prager. I don’t know how I would get through the week without him.
On the Ultimate Issues Hour Prager interviewed Donald Rumsfeld about his new book Rumsfeld’s Rules: Leadership lessons in Business, Politics, War and Life. Rumsfeld is the former Secretary of Defense who has been making a list of rules to use to guide ones life. While some of the rules he came up with over his many years of life and experiences, some of them are quotes taken from historical figures. Prager calls it the accumulated wisdom of his life. During the interview, Prager highlighted a few of these rules that especially struck him.
When starting at the bottom be willing to learn form those at the top.
Dennis points out that this is such a good rule of life because there are a lot of wiser people that lived before you and that are living today. So why don’t you try to learn from them? Today’s generation doesn’t live that way, but it is to our own stupidity and loss. The wisest people that I know are all much older and I enjoy learning from them and hearing about their life experiences.

The harder I work, the luckier I am.
Rumsfeld says that the relationship between effort and results is always a perfect example of this. The more you work at it the better you become. I’ve never thought of hard work and luck as going hand in hand, but I understand this rule and believe it to be true. No one has ever accomplished anything through laziness. The more you work hard, the more opportunities will fall into your lap.
Don’t let the urgent crowd out the important.
Prager particularly loves this rule and says it is really the basis of the ultimate issues hour, because the daily issues are urgent, but the important issues are the ones we don’t speak about enough. This rule really makes sense. I think about this all the time at work when people I work with are getting all bent out of shape over unimportant work problems. They tend to snap at their co-workers and be rude to other people. They are so worried about the “job” that they forget to treat others with common decency.
The art of listening is indispensable for the right use of the mind.
Prager added that the reason that his career has been so successful is that he is a very good listener and half the time it’s not just about talking, but about listening as well. This is common sense that is often not followed. Listening is often much more important than talking.
The first consideration of meetings is whether to call one at all.
Rumsfeld goes on to say that a meeting can be an effective way of communicating to many people at once, but people use a meeting as a substitute to deciding something. A discussion is not a decision. I love this rule. I want to post it at work in the conference room.
Men count up the faults of those who keep you waiting.
Rumsefeld states that it’s disrespectful and enormously wasteful of other people’s time. If you keep 10 people waiting for 10 minutes you’ve wasted 100 minutes.
The success of an organization (Prager added 'human beings') will depend on the people you surround yourself with.
Rumsfeld went on to say that his advice to a young person wondering what to do is to go find people that are smart, brilliant and wise and they will learn so much and find so many things of interest.

I really enjoyed the interview with Rumsfeld and have put this book in my long line of books to read. 

This week’s male/female was based on a letter from a listener whose wife of 20 years just filed divorce citing that she has realized that she no longer loves him and has not loved him for a long time. There was no catalyst for the realization, but she claimed he has held her back from becoming what she could be and refuses counseling to fix their marriage. He says he truly loves his wife and doesn’t want a divorce. Prager ask for callers to weigh in with their advice. He wanted to know if anyone had been in this situation and he asked how a spouse could be unaware that their partner isn’t in love with them anymore.

The first caller said it was a midlife crisis and that his wife did a similar thing, but they worked through it. A woman called in saying she did the same thing and that it was a symptom of menopause. Her and her husband worked past it as well. Another woman called who left her husband and said that if her husband had tried to fight the divorce then they would have stayed together. She agreed that it was a crisis, but for her it was a crisis from a miscarriage, not a midlife crisis. A stay at home Mom called and said understand this woman and that she feels under appreciated by her Husband. She said she feels this way because she never gets any recognition for her job well done which is raising the kids and taking care of the house. She said that she wants and needs more from her husband. She has the ability to buy anything she wants and has two vacation homes, but says the only thing she wants is recognition from him because she doesn’t get it from her workplace and that she won’t know if her job is well done until her children leave the house and they have a life of their own. Prager asked her if she put the marriage first, the children first, or if they are tied. She said they are tied, because she is the one that pursues the counseling for the marriage. Many other people were calling in with similar situations. One caller said that resentment from unmet needs is the number one killer of marriages.

In my opinion, I think too many women put all the emphasis on fostering a relationship with their children and none or very little on their marriage. Eventually, they realize that they are not getting the deep, fulfilling, rewarding relationship from their children and that it is one sided (the kids are not looking for this type of relationship with their parents) when they look back to find it in their marriage, it’s gone. The husband has either found something else to enjoy, is unavailable, or has put his energy into providing for the family. A lot of people I work with spend all their free time with their children while taking them to sports or other after school activites. While being involved with, and even coaching a child can be a great way to nurture a relationship with your child, they don’t seem to give equal time to nurturing a relationship with their spouse. It seems that as children get older and start to pull away, that it is the parent latching on and having a hard time letting go (insert one sided relationship). If the parents would have latched onto each other more, the children would not only have a good example in front of them, but probably do better socializing and forming relationships with kids their own age. Kids want to bond with other kids. I know people want to spend as much time as possible with their children when they are young, but people fail to realize that their spouse isn’t guaranteed to be around forever either. I believe if more couples took time for their relationships with one another, then there wouldn’t be cases of people suddenly realizing they were not in love anymore. It is much harder to re-create love among two people than it is to keep it going. Plus, keeping love alive is fun. It just takes effort.

The happiness hour focused on the topic of envy and jealousy. More specifically how everyone is a package so you shouldn’t look at one aspect or trait of a person and envy just that, but instead look at the entire package of that person. You need to see people as a whole and not just look at a pretty woman and be envious of her looks while not knowing what her life is really like. Prager says envy eats people up and jealously, which is worse, is corrosive. He cites the Mother of his friend who told him when he was a young kid that the only happy people she knew were the people she didn’t know very well. What she is saying is that if you knew the person well you would understand that somewhere is unhappiness and pain. Prager insists you cannot envy just one trait, you have to look at the whole person, because people are not just one trait, but a collective and there are so many aspects to our lives. Some of these traits are wonderful some are terrible. You may envy a baseball player’s career, but do you envy his personal life as well? Chances are you don’t know anything else about him. Prager says that it is self sabotaging and intellectually we are fooling ourselves when we envy another person’s trait instead of the whole package. He points out that just about everyone has something that we could envy such as their money, marriage, health, kids, etc, but there are probably few people whose lives we would trade if we knew everything about them. He does point out however, that envy can be a good thing if you want to emulate that trait. It’s bad if it leads to a 'poor me complex' or when you resent the person for having what you want. One insightful caller pointed out that she realized that her happiness lay in the humility to go up to someone who had something she wanted and telling them that they have something she wanted, asking them how they got it, and taking the steps to obtain it herself.

I loved this happiness hour, because I think so many people fall victim to this. I’ve always been very happy with my life, but I haven’t used my envy of other peoples desirable traits in a productive way like that caller said. After listening to the hour and pondering on it I am going to try and approach people I am envious of in an attempt to gain the qualities that they possess to get where they are. A good example is getting in shape. I follow the blogs of people who are in shape and happy with their body. They did it with hard work and determination and while I am completely envious of them I read their blogs as a way to learn what worked for them and try to apply it for myself. I think everyone could use philosophy in all aspects of their life that they want to improve. It goes back to a Rumsfeld rule- When starting at the bottom be willing to learn form those at the top. I plan on doing just that.


Feeling Blah

This weekend I didn't get to the grocery store and we are out of everything. This means I've had to figure out what I was going to do for breakfast, lunch and dinner as I got hungry. It's been a bad, bad thing to do to myself. I've struggled all week and ate out every single day. I really think planning is the most essential part of eating healthy. I've tried to count my calories every day this week, but when I'm hungry, desperate, and have nothing at home I tend to go over my limit. It's really hard to eat out every meal and eat 1,300 calories a day. Yesterday I had 1,500 calories, not a total bust, but it isn't helping my weight loss either. Luckily enough this morning I hadn't gained any weight, but I feel blah. Eating out time after time just makes me feel bloated and nasty. I haven't been getting as much fruits and vegetables and I can tell a difference in how I feel. 

A lot of people have been doing the Advocare 10 day cleanse. It's the hot trend right now. I've been reading other people's blogs about it for two months now, interested, but not convinced. I've never done a cleanse and to be honest I'm scared of the idea of "cleansing" for 10 days. This girl works 40 hours a week. I can't be sitting on the pot for ten days. After talking to numerous people and reading about it I finally decided to go ahead and try it. I figure it's only ten days and worth a shot. I keep hearing it's a gentle cleanse. We will see. I'm still a little worried. So to prepare, I've been pinning recipes that look good and are within the food limitations. A friend has given me a grocery list of foods you can eat so I've been coming up with meal plans and creating my grocery list for this weekend. I would consider myself a picky eater and while I won't necessarily struggle to find foods that fit within the cleanse limitations, I am not one of those people who can just eat anything. I wish I was. So I'm trying to be as prepared as possible to be successful for this entire cleanse. It's only ten days, but it's ten whole days and a lot goes on in my life in ten days. When I finally decided to do the cleanse, it wasn't just to lose weight, but also to feel better overall. No more eating out and feeling blah. Many of the people I have talked to said they feel awesome afterwards and have seen results far beyond weight loss. The main thing that intrigued me was someone who said that they stopped sweating as much in the night. She mentioned that after her children she thought it was a change in her hormones and I can totally relate. I've felt some changes in my body have been due to hormonal changes, but maybe I'm wrong. 

All that being said, I do want to lose weight and that is the main reason for trying this cleanse. I've really been trying to lose some weight since the weather has gotten better. My goal right now is 20 pounds. In 2011 I lost 25 pounds and wanted to continue to lose another 20, but I just fell off the weight loss train and stayed where I was. When winter came this year I slowly saw the scale climbing back up and I knew I had to do something. I still wanted to lose weight, not gain back the weight I had lost over a year ago. I've lost almost 10 pounds since my heaviest weight this winter. I've been counting calories and I had been exercising with the Couch to 5K program until I injured my knee a month ago. Since my injury, I've been going to physical therapy and making great process, determined not to give up due to this setback. Running and exercising SUCKS, but I cannot wait to get back to it. During my appointment tomorrow my therapist is hoping to re-introduce running and full exercise and I'm so excited. I'm hoping that the ability to exercise again along with this cleanse will really get me motivated to lose these 20 pounds that I've been wanting to lose for so long. I know it won't be easy and I know it's going to take diet AND exercise, but feeling better about myself and my body is so worth it. 

I also have an appointment with my general doctor tomorrow.It's just a yearly physical and so I'm going to make a point to get her opinions on this cleanse and talk to her about vitamins. I know I need to take them, but I don't. Other than food and the actual cleansing, one thing I worry about when doing this cleanse is what my energy level will be like. I don't drink caffeine and I'm a busy person working full time and having a two year old. My mornings start at 6am my day usually ends at 11pm or later. Sleeping in is no longer a part of my life. Advocare sells an energy drink called Spark which everyone raves about. However, I've been advised not to drink caffeine by my doctors and I've really tried to listen to them. When I got out of the hospital it was something that was really stressed to me due to an elevated heart rate and the strain that caffeine puts on your heart. While I would enjoy the benefits of the energy boost that Spark would give me, I'm not sure it's something I'm going to be able to drink. Since I may not be able to use the energy drink as a pick me up while my body is cleansing and detoxing I've decided to plan around it. 

I've been told that most people find the third and fourth days the worst energy wise. With this in mind, I've decided to start the cleanse on Wednesday which means the third and fourth days would fall over my weekend. Starting on a Wednesday also means that I will only be on the cleanse over one weekend which is when I tend to eat the worst. Adam is such a bad influence! (But I still love him more than anything in the entire world!) I hope having the one weekend fall within days three and four will not only allow me to rest if I feel exhausted, but also be early enough in the 10 days that I will be motivated to stay on track and not give in to weekend temptations. I know it's just a cleanse, but I am really excited. I'll be sure to blog with updates and my end results. Most importantly, I'm going to be sure to make a point to get to the grocery this weekend and do everything I can to set myself up for success.


DP Week in Review

Another wonderful week of Dennis Prager has come and gone. Here are my thoughts on this weeks show...

This week’s Ultimate Issues Hour had a guest, Mary Eberstadt, who has written a new book, How the West Really Lost God. In it, she looks into the reasons that faith and religion are dying in our culture. She has concluded that the decline is due to the decline in families and the decline in families is directly correlated with the loss of religion. She points out that the first major decline was seen during the Industrial Revolution when men left rural life and their families to find work in the cities alone. She says that urbanization leads to falling birthrates. This makes sense because people tend to move into more rural areas when they settle down. Many people think cities are not places to raise a family. She points out that Scandinavia, for example, has the lowest rate of religious people in the Western world and more than half of all Scandinavians live alone. Throughout the hour, the sexual revolution, the welfare state, and college were also pointed to as contributing factors for the fall of religion. The secular tend to say that religion is failing because religion is a form of superstition and as a culture becomes more educated they realize that and move beyond religion. She debunks that in her research which found that the top one third of the socioeconomic class in the US are much more likely to go to church than the bottom one third who are also less educated. On top of that, the family formation has fallen apart for the bottom one third. She has found that families tend to go to church because once people have kids they tend to want to raise their child in a moral community and for many people having children is quasi religious experience in itself. As a parent, I can relate to that. When you have a small child in your arms it’s almost impossible to grasp that you and your spouse made this living breathing creature without feeling like there was a higher power at work. Since having Landon, I've struggled in finding a community church where we can raise him, because that sense of religious community is very important to me. I was raised in a split home with a Catholic father and a mother who, at times, attended a Methodist church. I attended Catholic church every other weekend when I was with my dad and attended various churches irregularly with my mom. When I turned 18 I was no longer “forced” to go to church with my father and so I never went to church. I never stopped believing in God, but I was a young adult with better things to do. Growing up I hadn't felt a real calling to church and never fully identified with a religion so I didn't make it a priority. When I was 23 and started to think about getting married I knew I wanted to get married in a church and a Catholic Church at that. While I may have not felt a calling, it was where I felt most comfortable and felt the most presence of God. I've always felt that getting married is a religious event and should be celebrated within the confines of a church. As I started to explore my own faith and the church deeper I really found myself for the first time. I felt grateful for everything that I had and everything that my future held, especially the family that I wanted to create. As my future husband and I continued to explore the Catholic faith deeper we both felt a deep connection to it and each other. To say that it brought us closer and made our relationship better doesn't even begin to explain it. There is no doubt in mind that religion makes the family stronger and is an invaluable asset for family life. As Dennis Prager puts it at the end of the hour, two of the healthiest things a human can have are family and religion and unfortunately, both are in decline. 

This week’s topic on the male/female hour was What Do Couples Argue About Most. Dennis points out that the less you argue the better and I think most everyone would agree with that. He ponders if an argument free home is possible and if it should be a goal. He thinks people that are calm, in sync and especially rational should be able to have a largely argument free home. The callers said their main source of arguments were in-laws, money, and raising kids.

I remember when I was in the hospital and so thankful to Adam for everything he was doing for me that I thought when we got home we would never argue again. I thought all my appreciation and everything we had been through would negate all future arguments. I was wrong. I would say we have a largely argument free home. When we do argue it’s always over a simple miscommunication that tends to hurt the other persons feelings in some way. Even though we do still argue, everything we went through together did change our arguments in many ways. For example, we tend to make up very quickly. I can’t think of an argument or disagreement that we have where we haven’t made up from within an hour. We get mad, one person will walk away and the other feels so badly that we quickly sit down, talk about it, resolve it and move past it. We've learned that in the grand scheme of things, we are on each other’s side. We want to work together, understand each other, and make each other happy. Most importantly, we've learned that it is important to always put the marriage first and not yourself, your own feelings, or interpretations of things. In doing this, it’s made us look at things differently and handle arguments much better. From the very beginning of our relationship I've always made it a point to try and never say something nasty, mean or hurtful things out of anger. When I feel that I am starting to get upset and/or mad the best thing I can do is to walk away and take some time to process my thoughts. The saying that you can’t take back your words is true and seems to apply the most in arguments. Couples would fare much better if they didn't try to hurt one another during an argument. One word that couples use to hurt each other is divorce. Yes, there are some rare instances that I would consider divorcing Adam. Obviously, there a few things I just couldn't stand for, but I never use the word as a threat when arguing with him. Divorce just isn't on the table and bringing it up would only create a wall within our marriage. We truly believe that two people cannot be completely comfortable and secure in their marriage if divorce is part of the equation. Divorce is just one example of a word that can be used to hurt the other person, but there are so many more. Using words to hurt someone will only hurt the marriage long term. 

In closing Prager mentions that a lot of times the argument that a couple has usually isn't about the issue they are arguing about, but about something deeper. Sometimes people don’t even realize it and it takes introspection to figure out the real cause. I think that arguments like this would be very hard to resolve and move past. How can you resolve a problem if you don't even know what the real problem is? Marriage is important for your family, health and happiness. If couples would work together, let go of their own pride, and put the marriage first then having a largely argument free home can be very possible for any couple. 

On the happiness hour Dr. Stephen Marmer a psychiatrist and faculty member at UCLA Medical School came on to talk about how you know if your therapy is working and how to choose a good therapist. I had to admit this topic for the happiness hour doesn’t really excite me. I know a lot of people are in and need of therapy and I completely understand. I hope the hour was able to help a lot of people and I'm sure many people got a lot from it. One thing, however, that Dr. Marmer said that really stood out to me was about how after six months the therapist should give you a heightened understanding about your role in your own misery. He says that one of the most common mistakes that prevent therapy from being successful is that the therapist takes the patients side to the exclusion of having the patient understand their role in their own misery. That people need to see that in some way they are the architect of their own misery. I think this was the most important thing that Dr. Marmer said in the entire hour. Even Prager noted the significance of this statement. Many people tend to want to blame someone else for their unhappiness when in truth people can contribute to happiness or unhappiness in your life, but only you are ultimately responsible for your happiness or unhappiness. If you cannot see this and/or be open to the thought of this then you are destined to be unhappy forever. I think this is the most powerful message a therapist can send to a person and as they stated in the hour, if a therapist cannot be honest then they are no good to that person. I hope that anyone seeking therapy can find someone willing to be honest with them in this way. 

Aside from the designated hours, Dennis Prager had an interesting interview with Elizabeth Becker who has a new book out called Overbooked: The exploding business of travel and tourism. She wrote this book by approaching it from the viewpoint of an International Economics correspondent which takes a completely different approach to looking at the industry. Instead of focusing on travel itself she focuses on the economic impact of travel both positive and negative. In her research, Becker found that tourism produces 6.5 trillion dollars of the world’s economy and is becoming the world’s largest business, but it isn't treated like other economic powerhouses. 1 out of every 12 people in the world are employed in some way by the tourism industry. For the US, the biggest tourist destinations fluctuate between New York and Las Vegas, which surprised both Prager and myself. She points out that there are different types of travelers- cultural, consumer and nature. One thing she mentioned that I really found interesting was that during the recession travel and tourism was the first thing to rebound and while people may not have had as big vacations it is one of the last things people cut out their budget. I can relate! Loving travel and wanting to be a part of the industry, I was immediately interested in reading this book. I checked the library and they had just gotten it in so as soon as I got off work I went and picked it up. I’m finding it fascinating looking at travel as an industry and not as a hobby like I usually do. There are some very interesting statistics and information and I will share my thoughts and findings in a post when I am done with the book which may be within the week if I can't put it down.


Fun Day Friday

Since Friday is my Saturday it's usually packed full of fun stuff for Landon and I. This Friday Adam was off so we got to spend the day together. I had taken Landon to Skyzone a few months ago for their Toddler Time and he loved it. Adam had been wanting all of us to go together so he could take pictures, but I've been hesitant to take Landon when it's open to everyone. Toddler time is for ages 5 and under and only on Fridays from 11am-12pm. Since Adam was off this Friday we took advantage and went.

Landon loves to run around, play with the balls, and jump in the pit. I need to make a point to take him to Toddler Time more often, because it's great exercise for him...and me. It's actually a major workout and I'm not sure who was more worn out at the end of the hour. An hour is the perfect amount of time for his age and for only $8 for one parent and kid it's a great activity. Landon's favorite part this time was jumping in the styrofoam pit with me. He kept asking for my hand so we could go jump in together.

I can see Landon having a birthday party there in a couple of years. Skyzone is a lot of fun for kids of all ages (including the adult kids) and is a perfect activity for bad weather days. Since Landon's birthday is January 29th I'm always making a mental list of places he can celebrate his birthday as he gets a little older. It's part of my guilt for having a child in the middle of winter.

On a side note, it's great to have a husband who's an awesome photographer, but I hate that he is always taking the pictures and hardly ever in them. I need to take over the camera every once in awhile and take the pictures so he can be in them. I know I won't be able to take the quality pictures that he takes, but we need pictures of him and Landon too.

Friday night my dad and I went a wine club event at Huber's Winery. My girlfriend and I have been going to Huber's consistently for about a year now to have girl's days. We always have a good time doing a wine tasting, getting some food and sharing a bottle of wine. A few months ago they mentioned to us that they had a wine club with special benefits for members. Since my dad loves wine and is the hardest person in the world to get a gift for, I decided it would be the perfect gift for him and something we could do together. If you know anyone who likes wine then a membership is a great gift idea. There are quarterly wine shipments that they send out to all of their members, there are special member-only events, and special discounts. Wine members also get free wine tasting for themselves and four other people anytime they visit. Score! The event Friday night was a little hampered by the rain, but still great. We had a wine tasting, dinner, live music and a vineyard tour. The wine tasting was supposed to happen in the vineyard (which would have been so neat), but due to all the rain it was in the cellar instead.

Dad and I had a great time enjoying a few of their wines, having dinner and touring the vineyard. Huber's is an amazing family owned farm. It's not just a winery either, they have something for everyone and it's enjoyable year round. We've taken Landon there the last two years to pick pumpkins just as I went growing up. I'm looking forward to going back in a few weeks to pick strawberries with Landon. Speaking of strawberries they had the best strawberry sangria which is seasonal only so I'll have to go back soon. I always enjoy a good sangria.

On a final note, happy mother's day to all the mom's! Hope you enjoy your special day. Here is one of my favorite mother's day pictures. This is Adam's grandmother with Landon in 2011 when he was just over 4 months old. To me this picture just sums up a mother's love.


Good Eats

I'm in love with Pinterest and have been spending way too much time pinning items for over a year now. While I've probably wasted a lot of time pinning things I will never do or try, I have tried a number of recipes and found really some really great ones. Last night I made one of Adam's all time favorite pinterest finds-Grilled Spicy Honey Chicken! The recipe that I make is almost an exact copy from HERE, the girl who ate everything's website. The only real difference is that she uses chicken thighs and I use boneless breast. It is so easy and not fattening. The best part is it takes very little time and yet adds a ton of flavor to chicken.

Start by making a rub with the following spices...

2 teaspoons granulated garlic (you can sub 1 teaspoon garlic powder here)
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder

Other ingredients include
1/2 cup honey
1 tablespoon cider vinegar

Mix the spices together well with a spoon. Trim any excessive fat off your chicken and rub lightly with olive oil. It won't take a lot of olive oil just enough to wet the chicken. Add the spices to both sides of the chicken and rub it in well. I usually wait to start the grill until after I've put the rub on just to give it a little time to set on the chicken. Cook the chicken thoroughly on the grill (10 minutes a side for our grill). While the chicken is cooking, put 1/2 cup of honey and 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar in a bowl and heat in the microwave to thin out the honey (about 15-20 seconds). When the chicken is done cooking coat each side of the chicken with the honey/cider mixture just before removing from the grill and then enjoy! It's delicious! Not too spicy and anything but bland grilled chicken. I haven't figured up the calories, but considering honey is the only real ingredient with any amount of calories, you know it isn't much. I've used this rub on four chicken breasts, but it's a stretch. It's perfect for three so I suggest if you have more to double the recipe.

Since I was making one of Adam's favorites I decided to make another one of his favorite recipes- Cheddar Biscuits. These are all over pinterest with various people having made their own versions of Red Lobster's famous biscuits. The first time I made them from they were good, but not quite right. Eventually, I perfected them and added an ingredient at the end that makes all the difference. 

Here's what you need..

2 cups Bisquick biscuit mix
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup cheddar cheese (shredded)
1/4 cup butter (melted)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
Garlic Salt

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix biscuit mix, milk, and cheddar cheese until soft dough forms; beat vigorously for 30 seconds. Drop dough by spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. My batch made 11 biscuits, but depending on the size it could be more or less.

While your biscuits are cooking, melt butter in a cup and add garlic powder and dried parsley. As soon as the biscuits come out of the oven brush butter generously on each one and sprinkle with garlic salt. Garlic salt is the secret weapon here and really makes them taste like the real thing. Enjoy immediately!

I use whole milk in most of my cooking, because it's the only milk I keep on hand (for Landon) and because it really makes a big difference in taste. I calculated that my biscuits were 161 calories a piece. Not great, but not horrible. They are worth it and you could cut down on some of the calories by using fat free milk and less fattening butter and cheese. I choose to just deal with the calories and enjoy every bit of the two I allow myself to have. Add some veggies and you have a great dinner that the Husband will love. Bon Appetite!


DP Week in Review

In today's world it seems that wisdom is a thing of the past. One person that I really admire and think has an unending amount of wisdom is Dennis Prager. Since I started listening to him years ago I can honestly say no single person, outside of my family and friends, has had more of an influence on me. Dennis Prager is a conservative talk show host on AM radio. Three times a week he has dedicated hours which have nothing to do with politics. These are my favorite three hours of my work week. I listen to his show everyday, but I find myself planning my day around these dedicated hours. On Tuesday he dedicates an hour to life's ultimate issues where he talks about some of life's greatest issues. On Wednesday's he dedicates an hour to Male/Female relationships which he calls "the most honest talk about men and women on the radio". On Friday he has a happiness hour. This is his longest running dedicated hour and his most important. At the beginning of every happiness hour he says "The second hour of every Friday is dedicated to happiness, because the happy make the world better and the unhappy make it worse. Therefore, it is a moral obligation to at least act happy." Since Prager has had such an impact on my life I thought it would only be fitting if I dedicated a post a week to his show and mainly his three dedicated hours. When I wrote THIS post on happiness and my journey to happiness after everything that I went through, so much of it was influenced by this one man. As a form of gratification and a way to share him with others I want to talk about his shows of the past week that I found most interesting.
First, his Ultimate Issues hour of the week was about one of his most important issues of life which is that he believes that God most wants to us to be good people and do good on this planet. He cites the Bible when Isaiah says "The Holy God is made Holy through Goodness". He also mentions the reason God saved Noah was only because of his Goodness which also allowed him to walk with God. To take it a little further he brings up the issue on how to judge if religion is doing good. He says that it should be judged by if it is producing good fruit. Not that it has never produced a bad fruit, but if it overwhelmingly produces good fruit, then it is good thing. I really enjoyed this hour. I totally 100% agree that God wants us to be good more than anything else. I don't think he cares if you go to church every single day or have the most friends on facebook. What he cares about is that we are good people. Moving on to the religious part, as a Catholic I often hear people make comments about the Catholic Church. Has it produced bad fruit? Yes. Overall, has the fruit it produced been good and done good? YES! So many people are quick to judge religions based on something they know or think they know about it. As I said a few weeks ago, goodness is the most important thing I hope to instill in Landon and I hope that he can find a religion that will guide him in goodness through it's own goodness.

His second dedicated hour this week on male/female was about space and if it is good for a couple to have space from one other. He argues that spending more time together is better for couples and that you marry someone to be with them, not to have space. One common quote he brought up was "Absence makes the heart grow founder". When Adam and I started dating we were inseparable and were consistently being told this by our families. We knew it just didn't work for us. Prager said he didn't understand that quote that he thought absence doesn't make the heart grow founder, it creates absence. Exactly!!! Adam and I have always done better when together. If we are able to spend a week or two together non stop we are great. If we go a week or more having little time together we tend to butt heads more. It's like you get used to having your space and doing your own thing and so when you are together it just makes it harder. I believe that when you meet the person you are meant to be with that you just know that it is right. You don't break up and get back together over and over or need your own time. You actually function better the more they are around. You want to be around the person.

This weeks happiness hour was based on when people say that you cannot pursue happiness, that it is a by-product of other things. I've never heard someone say this, but apparently there are books written on how you cannot pursue happiness. Of course you can! You have to! Yes, happiness is a by-product of other things, but you have to pursue it. Most people do not wake up every morning happy and live their entire lives happy every single day. Most people have to work on obtaining happiness during at least some part of their life. Moods, emotions, tragic life events all could keep us from being happy if it we didn't pursue it. Prager points out that if we couldn't pursue happiness then why would they write in the Declaration of Independence that all people have certain unalienable rights which include the pursuit of happiness. Happiness is something that we should all strive to pursue at all times. It will add to our life and make us better people. Anyone who thinks that we are unable to pursue happiness is either very fortunate and naturally happy everyday or a very miserable and sad person.

There were two other topics that Prager talked about this week that really intrigued me. Dr. Bill Bennett was on talking about his new book Is College Worth It?. Dr. Bennett said that the book focuses on the economic issues surrounding college and that debt drives the conversation. Dr. Bennett was a secretary of education and says that our college system is broke. He said that there are 3,500 four year colleges in the US. 46% of people who attend these colleges today do not graduate. Of the 64% that do, half of them are unemployed or underemployed. He says that there are less people in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) than in 1985, but those are the good paying jobs. Outside of those professions, people would do better off going to community colleges or technical schools. He gathers that only 20-25% get their money's worth from four year colleges. It seems that people are starting to realize it too. A poll in 2011 said 82% of people thought college was a good investment, but the same poll in 2013 found only 57% thought it was a good investment. He said he was giving a talk the other night and a father said that when he sent his twins to college he thought their character would be improved, but instead in the six months after they started he saw nothing about their character improving, but learned that they had engaged in lots of sex, tried illicit drugs, and were getting drunk three nights a week. I cringe at the thought of Landon being college age. I hope he can go to college with a clear goal, stay out of debt and escape college without being turned into someone who makes all their decisions based on feelings. If he doesn't know what he wants to do then I will push him in any direction, but a four year institution.

The last hour that I found fascinating this week was a best-of hour. This is an hour that originally played in August of 2012. It was based on THIS article about how there is a trend in parenting where parents think of their kids as their buddies. In reading this article I wasn't surprised, but so astounded at the train of thought of some of the parents interviewed. Prager argued that being your child's buddy takes away that vertical relationship of parent-child and makes it so that you are the same, equal. My favorite line from this hour was "Your child will have plenty of buddies, but only one father." How true! We look at Landon as our son, but not as our buddy. We want to spend time nurturing a relationship with Landon by teaching him and watching him grow, but we do not hang out with our child to enjoy the companionship. We look to each other, family and friends for that. In the article Lance Somerfeld, a stay-at-home dad in Park Slope said “I think as he gets older and I need to really establish myself as the authority figure, I won’t keep calling him buddy." This makes no sense to me. It’s like training a dog. If you start with good habits in the beginning then it make it easier in the long run. Is it easier to teach a puppy not to get into a bed or a four year old dog accustomed to sleeping on the bed to up and stop? Why not train a toddler what is right and wrong so that they understand boundaries clearly when they are first learning? That way by the time they are an older child they will know better and it will be second nature. How will this man's parenting work? A child won’t understand that just because they've turned 8 or entered into middle school why you’ve suddenly decided to change your relationship with them. It’s confusing. Children need consistency and it starts from when they are little. Changing a relationship from a horizontal to vertical relationship will only cause anger and confusion from a child. Another part of the article quotes a father as saying to his young child “If I had all my buddies lined up in a row and I had to choose my best buddy, it would be you.” Prager asked for a vomit bag and I have to agree. This isn't parenting. He is trying to get something from this relationship that doesn’t exist. It seems perverse. Would the father gets his feelings hurt if the child picks a kid his actual age to hang out with? Probably. How wrong is that? Your child loves you just because you are his parent, just like you love him just because he is your Son. Nothing can change that. It isn’t a competition. Landon is happiest when playing with his cousin Taylor. Taylor is Landon’s buddy. That doesn’t make us jealous. If it did, we would need to reevaluate ourselves. Parenting isn’t about being selfish, it’s about being selfless and trying to be your kids best friend is selfish. I know that in the world we live in today we raise our Son very different from most people. We want to raise Landon to respect people older than him, to have manners and use Mr. and Mrs. when addressing adults. One day when Landon has children of his own we will be able to be his buddy and he will learn what it is to be the parent. Until then, we can be buddies with everyone except our Son.


The Problems of a Working Girl

I think I have a very common problem-My job. I just feel stuck. My job isn't bad. I get paid decently, I have great health care, and I have good vacation time. I will actually be getting my fourth week of vacation in January, because I will have been with my company for 10 years. 10 years! I cannot believe it! I’m only 27 and it’s crazy to think I've been with my company for so long. I started out part-time when I was going to school and moved into a full-time position before I finished. When I found out I was pregnant I was able to go back part-time with great hours and I loved it. A few weeks before Landon’s first birthday I went back full-time. Adam had just finished his first semester of his Master’s degree and we had incurred a lot more debt. I was lucky to be able to go back full-time and a decent job pretty much fell into my lap. It was challenging and a lot of little circumstances put me on a big account with lots of responsibilities. I've been able to use my brain and work pretty independently and overall I've enjoyed the last year. I've received a lot of positive feedback from my management for all my hard work and am currently trying to take the next step in moving up the ladder. But in doing that I feel like I'm making that decision to commit myself there permanently. I'm just not sure what my future holds and it's scary. I’m happy with the decisions that I have made up to this point. I stayed with my company because it’s always been a stable and steady job. While Adam has switched companies 4 or 5 times we've always known about what to except with my job.

However, over the last few months things have sort of changed that have made me re-evaluate my career path. Our volume at work has dropped drastically and I have become a little skeptical of some of the politics and upper management decisions that affect my daily work.This has affected my attitude and that's a BIG PROBLEM! I've felt very torn between staying with this stable company and trying to find something else; Something that I love. When I do though, I start to feel immature and selfish for excepting to love my job. My Mom never loved her job. She started out on the bottom and worked her way up. After working for over 35 years for the same company, she retired making more money in retirement than I do working a forty hour week. I have great respect for her and always think about her and her situation when I feel ready to give up. I know in a lot of ways I’m lucky and some day that could be me and usually that's enough to keep me satisfied, but sometimes it's not. Some days I feel like I can have more.

This yearning for more is also a sort of bitterness because I feel like I was sold a bill of goods in college. Everyone expects you to graduate high school and go to college. People say it doesn't matter what you major in, because you have plenty of time to figure out what you want to do and all that matters is that you get a degree. They say that with a degree you will be able to land a good job and frankly it’s just not true. Four years stuck in classes all day doesn't help a person figure out what they want to do. Real life and college are two completely different things and it won’t take long in the real world to figure that out. Graduating doesn't land you a good job and doesn't always guarantee you’ll have an edge in the one you have. I’m not saying college is stupid or never worthwhile, but I really wish I had someone that could have mentored me through the process better. Originally, I wanted to do travel and tourism and was enrolled at UofK. At the last minute I decided against going there and ended up getting my degree in Marketing from UofL just because it was safe. To top if off, I graduated with $15,000 in student loans. I realize it could have been much worse, but loans have also made me feel stuck. My company paid for most of my college until my last year and a half when I went full-time. I busted my butt working full time on nights and going to school only to graduate no better off with student loans. I know it may pay off one day, but the disappointment when I graduated (almost 5 years ago) has been hard to deal with and made me a little bitter at times.

So a few months ago I went to Sullivan to see what it would take to get an associate's in Travel and Tourism. It’s my passion and I felt it was worth looking into. Since some of my credits from my Bachelor’s degree would transfer over, I could get the degree in less than a year and it would cost about $21,000!!! Yeah that’s a private school cost for you. I feel sorry for the kids that get their full associates from them to the tune of $37,000. It’s a freaking associate’s degree! It’s so sad. College is such an important life decision so why are we forced to make it when we are so young and naive?

Along with all of this, there are so many unknowns for us right now. I guess in a lot of ways I can’t stand the “unknown”. I’m pretty type A and I like to plan things, organize, and be prepared. Right now I feel like my future is way too unprepared. Normally, I can live in today and not worry too much, but sometimes it really bothers me. Adam doesn't want to stay in Louisville because his career path is better suited for a bigger city. He’s actually been looking and we are open to moving anytime if the right job opens up for him. If possible, I would try to stay with my company, but depending on where we might move, I might not be able to. With my work experience I have a decent chance of finding a job with a different company in the same industry. To help prepare for all of this, I could become licensed in my industry. Being licensed would give me a huge step up and make it very easy to get a job just about anywhere. It’s not an easy license to get and would take a lot of time and studying on my part. I’m sure I could do it, but I’m not really sure I want to. Would moving to a different city give me a reason to a different job and possibly one I enjoyed? Do I need to stop whining and just be grateful? What’s the most important thing in a job for me? When I have stability I think it’s happiness, but who's to say when I have something I’m happy with that I won’t miss the stability and benefits? That’s the case with one my best friends. She followed her dream and is doing her “dream job” only to realize that there are some harsh realities with it. She has thought about going back to school to major in something else, but the high cost of the college she has just been left feeling stuck. It's the opposite of my situation, but the same feeling.

I wish I had a crystal ball and knew what the future held for me and my career path. I wish I knew which decisions were best for myself and my family. Part of life is the unknown, but sometimes the unknown is scary and overwhelming. I've come to realize that many people feel exactly the way that I do about their job. When you are young and going into college the world feels right at your finger tips, but at 27 I've started to feel like time is passing very quickly and I’m not necessarily where I thought I would be. Should I be happy with what I have? Probably, but I don’t know that it is wrong to want more. Not just more from a job, but more from myself. I am capable and maybe that's where part of the problem is. In order to help I've made a list of goals for myself in different areas. My career goals are to move up at the company I am with and then obtain my license. Hopefully if life moves us away I will be as prepared as possible to find a good steady job, but I will always keep myself open to possibility of finding something I love. If I do maybe it will be worthwhile and maybe it won’t. I guess only time and chance will tell.