Friday, December 30, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday (Take 40)

--- 1 ---

What a blessed Christmas we had with my family this year!  This Christmas was less about presents than ever and more about spending time together with the new little addition to our family!  And of course, it was about Christ.  I really enjoyed attending Mass on Christmas day – it took the emphasis off presents, especially since we didn’t open them until afterward.  I definitely think this is a tradition we are going to keep, especially when we have children old enough to be excited by gifts.

--- 2 ---

One of my favorite family moments on Christmas was taking pictures in front of the Christmas tree.  My dad got a really nice SLR camera last year and was able to set it up on a tripod with the autotimer so that all of us – my grandparents, parents, brother, husband, baby and I - could be in the picture.  I don’t remember the last time we’ve all been in a picture together, at least one person is always left out to take the picture.  With my grandparents advanced age and declining health, these pictures and memories are especially important.

--- 3 ---

One of my love languages is gifts, but I love giving much more than receiving.  This year, I feel like I found the perfect gifts for each family member and it was so rewarding to see that they each were genuinely excited to receive them.  I don’t know about you, but I really dislike giving “filler” gifts when I can’t think of something personalized for each person.  I was a little bummed that with the baby I wasn’t able to spend the time to make homemade gifts, but sometimes the perfect gift just can’t be homemade (for example, the flexible tripod we bought for my dad).  Next year, I am going to attempt some homemade gifts though.

--- 4 ---

I was able to see my best friend three days this week before she flew back to Atlanta!  She was so excited to meet my baby girl and we got to spend a lot of time just chatting and catching up.  We are very different in some very obvious ways (I’m a devout Catholic, she’s agnostic, I’m married with a child and she is very unattached, she’s in grad school and very career driven while I’m a stay-at-home-mom), but we are very similar in other ways and never run out of things to talk about.  We were acquaintances in high school and didn’t become best friends until we went on a school-led trip to Europe right after we graduated from high school.  She went to school out of state at the end of that summer and we’ve never lived near each other since.  In fact, the past few months have marked the first time we’ve lived in the same time zone since we’ve become best friends.  While we are able to maintain our friendship with phone calls and emails, nothing can replace seeing her in person and getting a hug from my dearest friend! 

--- 5 ---

We went to dinner last night with my brother-in-law and his fiancée.  They just adored their little niece and soon-to-be goddaughter (she’ll be baptized this Sunday!).  I don’t know if I mentioned it before, but my soon-to-be sister-in-law asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding!  I’ve never been a bridesmaid before and I am so very thrilled to be a part of their wedding.  My husband and I are so happy to have a sister and she is such a blessing to our family, a very thoughtful and kind woman of God!

--- 6 ---

Did you see the post about the Baby on a Budget Series I’m planning?  I am looking for guest bloggers to write posts about how they are raising/have raised babies/children on limited means.  If you are interested in writing something, email me at  I want this series to be helpful to couples who are contemplating having children despite not being as financially stable as our society suggests is necessary for starting a family and for those couples who are currently expecting a baby or have a young child and are looking for some ways to be more thrifty.  If you have any suggestions of topics you’d like to read about, let me know by commenting or emailing me!
--- 7 ---

I haven’t written anything in my On Marrying Young Series in a while, but I do plan on continuing it.  I have some more ideas for posts, including incorporating it with the Baby on a Budget Series by writing about the decision to start a family (or not) when you marry young.  Again, I’d also love some more perspectives on the topic (especially some by people who haven’t married young – I’d like to present both sides of the issue!), so if you are interested in writing a guest post, email me.  I think the best posts in the series so far were by guest bloggers who gave their personal experience. 

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Baby on a Budget Series Introduction

Our baby girl is only three weeks old and she has already been an immense blessing to my husband and I and to our marriage.  Yet there was a very real possibility that she would have never been born because we entered our marriage deadset against having children until my husband graduated (which won't happen until this upcoming May).  You can read more about our change of heart here

The main reason we felt that we needed to wait to have children was because of the financial "burden" of children.  Once we realized that we were called to be parents now rather than later, we becan to see that would could in fact support a baby on my husband's measly grad student stipend.  Is it easy? No.  But it certainly is worth it. 

I believe that part of being open to life is accepting children even in "non-ideal" situations.  In our modern society, being financially stable, owning your own home, having a well-paying career, etc. are generally considered necessities before a couple would seek pregnancy.  Yet couples (including us) welcome children without having all (or any) of these and are still able to raise their children in loving households with the true necessities (food, clothing, shelter, love). 

So in order to support other married couples in being open to life, I'm going to be writing a series of posts on having a baby in a small budget.  I will give some of the tips and tricks that my husband and I use to support our family of three on his small stipend.  Of course, every couple must decide for themselves if starting (or further expanding) their family is financially feasible, but I do want to provide support, ideas, and my own personal experience to help them make their decisions.  It would have made the decision-making process easier for us if we knew of others that were able to do it, were able to ask questions, and seek advice. 

Some potential topics I'm planning to address:

What do babies really need?
Baby gifts -  how to ask for what you really need
Buying second hand
Cloth diapers (and wipes)
Buying baby items with money/gift cards earned online
Using coupons

I know there are many other men and women out there that decided to have children and are raising them on a small budget, so if you have any advice or would like to share your personal experience, I'd love to have you write a guest post.  Email me at

Please check out the other posts (including some great guest posts) in my Baby on a Budget series

Monday, December 19, 2011

My Two Week Old

From the moment she was born, I've had some serious anxiety about my baby girl growing up. I loved her in that very first moment after birth, when my husband placed her on my tummy. She was small and delicate and so very, very beautiful. Today she is two weeks old and already, she is so big! I can't believe how quickly babies grow. Now I understand why so many people told me while I was pregnant to enjoy every minute with my baby. That's exactly what I intend to do.

Lucia is such a sweet baby. She loves to be hugged and cuddled. She also loves to be swaddled. My favorite moments with her are our quiet times, especially when I'm breastfeeding her. She gets this sweet little smile right after she's done nursing, as she drifts off into a milk-induced coma. I also enjoy dancing with her - today we danced around the living room to Christmas music and she stared up at me with her mouth wide open.

So far, she hasn't liked her swing or bouncer, and while she'll sleep for a while in her Rock 'n' Play, she'd much prefer to sleep on the couch, in mama's arms, or on daddy's chest. She sleeps in our bed with us at night.

Lulu loves staring out the window, or better yet, going on walks. Although we've gone on several outings in the last week, I don't think she's noticed because she's fallen asleep as soon as we've put her in the car seat and has barely woken while we've been out. We've gone to Mass three times since she was born and she's slept through it entirely each time (which I'm a little surprised about since she was kicking and dancing in my belly all Mass long when I was pregnant).

I don't want my baby to grow up, but since she must, I can't wait to see what she'll do next. And I'm taking tons of pictures and video so I can always look back and remember my sweet baby newborn.

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Friday, December 16, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday (Take 38)

I can’t believe it’s Friday again already!  I haven’t had much time online this week between caring for my baby girl and spending time with my mom before she leaves on Sunday.  I’ve had a million blog posts in my head but they never made it onto the blog, so for this week’s quick takes, I’m going to do short summaries of the posts I would have written had I had the chance:

--- 1 ---

Last Sunday was Gaudete Sunday, the third Sunday of Advent.  Until this year, I never really understood what that meant, other than that the priest wears pink, but between this great post by Kaylene at Letters from Momma and a great homily by the priest, I feel like I finally have a solid understanding of what sets this Sunday apart.  I hope you had a beautiful, joyful Gaudete Sunday.

--- 2 ---

Breastfeeding is going really well.  Other than having some difficulty latching on the right side the first two days or so, Lucia hasn’t had any problems.  I was prepared for difficulties and for their to be a painful period of engorgement, but no such issues so far.  From what I’ve heard from many mothers, it’s not typical for breastfeeding to go so smoothly and I am very thankful it has been so wonderful for us.  Breastfeeding has been such a special mother-daughter bonding time.

--- 3 ---

Monday was the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Having learned so much about Our Lady over the years in my many Spanish and history classes (I was a double major in Spanish and history with an emphasis in Latin American History), I have a particular love of this apparition of our Blessed Mother.  (By the way, don't you just love learning about Catholic history in a secular class?  I love being reminded of how crucial the Church was in the history of the western world.)

--- 4 ---

We started using cloth diapers Tuesday and we’ve really liked them so far.  We are using almost all prefolds with covers, but we do have a few fitteds and one pocket diaper.  We were waiting until Lucia’s cord fell off to start and I was a little afraid that we would get too comfortable with disposables in the meantime, but I’ve found cloth diapers to be just as easy.  Of course, my mom is still here to do laundry for me and once she leaves on Sunday I may have a more difficult time keeping up with cloth diaper laundry.  We are also using cloth wipes (Lucia loves them, especially since we have a wipe warmer!).

--- 5 ---

Tuesday was St. Lucy’s feast day (it was a big week for Catholics!).  Obviously, Lucia is too young for us to celebrate her namesake’s feast day but it was still a very special day for us.  I’ve been thinking of ways to celebrate with her when she is old enough to understand.  Do you celebrate a feast day with your child?  What does that celebration look like in your household?

--- 6 ---

We had Rebecca of Red Fern Photography come take newborn pictures of Lucia on Sunday.  They came out beautifully (which is no surprise - if you remember, she took beautiful maternity pictures of me and my husband)!  Here is a sneak peak:

--- 7 ---

The weather here is beautiful.  We took Lucia for a walk today and I was only wearing a light sweater which I had to take off after we got started.  60s in December?  I certainly am not complaining, but it definitely does not feel like Christmas is around the corner.  We are going to Colorado to spend the holidays with our families and the cold weather is going to be a rude awakening.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Friday, December 9, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday (Take 37) - Newborn Edition

My husband and I were blessed with our first child, a beautiful baby girl named Lucia Rose, this past Monday.  Here are a few things I’ve learned in my four days of motherhood so far:

--- 1 ---

1.       To trust (and love) my body.  I am capable of growing a healthy baby for nine (er, ten…) months in my womb, giving childbirth naturally, and providing her sole nourishment for the first several months of her life.  God knew what he was doing when He created woman! 

--- 2 ---

1.       To listen to my body.  If it's capable of doing so much, it probably knows what I should be doing much better than I do.  When I’m hungry, I need to eat.  When I’m thirsty, I need to drink.  When I’m tired (and the baby’s sleeping), I need to sleep.  There is someone else depending on me now so I need to take care of myself. 

--- 3 ---

1.       That newborns are tiny.  I know, this should be obvious, but when I was washing and putting baby clothes away while I was pregnant, the clothes seemed like they would be too small.  When the midwife weighed her and said she was eight pounds, I couldn’t believe it; I thought an eight pound newborn would be much bigger, but she looked so small in my arms.  And she is absolutely swimming in some of her newborn clothes.  Take a look at how tiny Lucia is in her swing:

--- 4 ---

1.       That there are things much, much better than sleep.  Like staring at the little face of my sleeping daughter.  I know I should nap when she’s sleeping (see number 2) but I hate to miss anything, even watching her sleep.

--- 5 ---

1.       That even when you are a mommy yourself, you still need your mommy to take care of you.  My mom flew in Wednesday night and has been helping with the baby, especially at night so David and I can get some sleep.  It’s been wonderful.

--- 6 ---

1.       That half the joy of having a baby is seeing other people share in your joy.  I love watching the look on my mom’s face as she holds her baby granddaughter.  And hearing my dad get choked up every night when he is Skyping with her. 

--- 7 ---

1.       That people can be so generous and caring.  We’ve received countless warm wishes for our daughter since her birth, including many from casual acquaintances I wouldn’t have expected to hear from.  We got a box from my brother-in-law’s fiancée overflowing with pretty pink baby girl clothes for her niece.  Each person in my husband’s lab group is bringing us a meal one night this week (including several bachelors and the couple that had their baby last week!).  And I can’t forget to mention all the kind thoughts and prayers left by people here on my blog – thank you!  We are truly blessed to have so many people care about our little girl.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

It's a Girl!

We were blessed with the birth of our daughter, Lucia Rose, on Monday, December 5 at 2:53 pm.  She weighs 8 lbs. and is 19.75 inches long.  We think she's beautiful!  Thank you for all your prayers throughout my pregnancy and for my delivery.  David, Lucia, and I have been home since Monday evening and are adjusting to our new wonderful life as a family of three.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Book Review: The Church and New Media by Brandon Vogt

I heard more buzz about The Church and New Media: Blogging Converts, Online Activists, and Bishops Who Tweet before its release than any other book in recent memory.  Perhaps this was because the author and contributors to the book, which is essentially about the Catholic Church harnessing the power of social media, put their own advice into action to spread the word about this phenomenal book through the very social media they discuss within its pages.  I worried about starting the book with such high expectations, but after having read only the first chapter, I already felt that I had learned enough to make the book worthwhile even if the rest fell flat (which it didn’t!).

The Church and New Media can be summarized by three words: hope, inspiration, and advice.  Through the voices of the author, Brandon Vogt, and eleven diverse contributors, readers are introduced to the various ways that social media can, and has, been used to positively spread the message of the Catholic Church.  Each of these contributors has a unique story, some are priests, others laypersons, many are converts while others are lifelong Catholics.  They use different “new media” outlets: websites, blogs, podcasts, and Twitter to name just a few.  And yet the message of each is the same: that social media has the potential to renew the life of the Catholic Church.

The book is divided into four sections, each discussing a different aspect of the Church that could be enhanced by the use of social media: evangelization, faith formation, local parish engagement, and social justice activism.  Within each section, there are several chapters written by experts on the topic who not only gave uplifting accounts of how they have successfully used new media to promote the faith, but also very specific advice for others to do the same.  Just as the topics are varied, so is the advice; some is written for dioceses, parishes, and organizations while other guidance is directed toward bloggers and other individuals.  As a Catholic blogger, I took particular interest in the chapters that focused on blogging and gained substantial insight and ideas about improving my blog and Catholic presence online.  Yet I found the entire book to be fascinating and enjoyed the chapters about improving parish and diocese communication just as much as I enjoyed those that pertained to me specifically.  As I read those chapters, I thought about the social media currently utilized at my current and past parishes and how parish life might be altered in the future if just a few of the suggestions were implemented.  This in turn motivated me to consider ways that I personally can aid in the introduction of these technologies at the local level.

I believe that the best books are not those that merely entertain or even that prompt you to think, but those that cause you to act.  This certainly is one of those books.  For that reason, I view it as a must read not only for Catholic bloggers, church staff, and clergy, but for all Catholics.  After all, if the Church is communicating with us through social media, we should be knowledgeable able the resources available to us so that we can be on the receiving end of the Church’s messages.  If you haven’t read it already, I strongly urge you to pick up a copy.  Not only will you gain a greater understanding of how new media can be used as an instrument of God, you will also be financially supporting the spread of technology as 100% of the royalties from The Church and New Media go toward the establishment of school computer labs in the Archdiocese of Mombasa, Kenya.

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on The Church and New Media. They are also a great source for a Catechism of the Catholic Church or a Catholic Bible.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Patiently Awaiting

“For you O Lord, my soul in stillness waits,
Truly my hope is in you”

On this, the second Sunday of Advent, my thoughts have turned to patience.  And not just because I am a week past my due date and attempting to be patient as I await the birth of my first child.  No, I’m thinking about the patience in which we are called to wait for the return of Christ.  He calls us to wait patiently, but not to wait idly. 

“Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
he will prepare your way.
A voice of one crying out in the desert:
Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.

Do I spread the message of the Lord?  Am I preparing myself and others for his return?  What does this look like in the modern world?  Unlike John the Baptist, I am not called to preach in the wilderness.  But I am called to live my life in accordance with my faith, to be a living example of the message of Christ.  I am called to raise my child in a Christian household.  I am called to pray for my husband and to help him to be more faithful.  And perhaps this blog is also a way I can share the faith (later this week, I’m sharing my review of The Church and New Media, a book that can help all of us understand how we can be like John the Baptist, sharing the message of Christ through social media).
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Kaylene of Letters from Momma recently wrote a post about her Advent goals.  Although I’m a week late on this, I would like take inspiration from her post and make my own goals, not just for Advent, but rather New Year’s resolutions of sorts.  Advent marks the beginning of the liturgical year, and I want to make goals for spiritual growth in the upcoming year. 

In January, I chose a “word of the year” to concentrate on.  I chose the word obedience.  I feel that by focusing on just this one virtue, I was able to lay down a bit of my pride and become a little more obedient to God’s will.  Of course, this is still an area that I will continue to work on, that I will continue to need to work on, but I look forward to adding a new virtue to enhance.  So this year, I will be working on patience.  I am notoriously impatient (just ask my husband) and I feel like this is particularly harmful to my prayer life.  Sometimes, you just need to sit and listen, to be patient and let God answer your prayers in his time, in his way.  That approach has never really gone too well for me…

I don’t want to overwhelm myself with goals for this year, I know myself well and if I make too many goals, I won’t accomplish any of them.  This upcoming year, the goals will make themselves.  I will have to learn to be a mother and to balance that with being a wife.  So my second goal is simple: to go easy on myself.  I tend to be a perfectionist, at least in certain areas of my life, and I want to learn to let go, to enjoy life, and when I make mistakes, to forgive myself.

I hope your Advent has been blessed so far and that you continue to grow in faith as you prepare for the arrival of Christ!

Friday, December 2, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday (Take 36)

--- 1 ---

No baby yet!  I am currently five days “overdue” and trying to be very patient as we wait to meet our little one.  At least as I write this on Thursday evening, there are no signs of labor starting.   

--- 2 ---

When we moved here, several others from my husband’s lab group moved here as well, including another couple who was expecting.  The wife was due the day before me (Saturday) and she went into labor on her due date!  The baby wasn’t born until Monday morning after a long labor and David and I were able to go visit the new baby Tuesday night.  It was so bittersweet holding their little boy!  He was so adorable and made me even more anxious to meet our own baby, especially when watching my husband hold him.  I can’t wait to see my husband tenderly hold his own child!

--- 3 ---

David and I went to a penance service at our church on Monday.  I had been wanting to go to confession before I went into labor just in case, and it’s been too long anyway.  It was really nice to see the church filled with people who were wanting to go to confession and many priests there to hear them.  I’ve heard a lot of sad statistics about how few Catholics take advantage of the sacrament; I wonder if penance services were offered more often, would more people go to confession?  Perhaps the communal aspect would help assuage some of the fears that people have about going?

--- 4 ---

I bought the baby’s Christmas present yesterday!  I really wasn’t going to get the baby anything (Does that sound bad? He/she doesn’t need anything and there are so many people that are just waiting to spoil him/her.) but there was a really great deal on this children’s nativity set and I just couldn’t pass it up.  I love the idea of a nativity scene that kids can actually play with even if my little one won’t be able to play with it until next year.

--- 5 ---

I am two more presents closer to finishing my Christmas shopping.  I am particularly excited about the crucifix we bought for my brother-in-law and his fiancée (it was my husband’s idea!).  I’m not done buying all the gifts like I had wanted to be before the baby is born (perhaps that’s why he/she isn’t here yet?) but in reality, I still haven’t completed even half of my before baby goals, but I’m surprisingly okay with that.  I’m sure everything that needs to get done will get done, and if things don’t get completed, maybe they weren’t that important to begin with. 

--- 6 ---

My husband finally finished the fellowship application he’s been working on for months!  He’s been working so hard on it and if you ask me, I think he’s very deserving of it (although I might be a little partial).  He’s just waiting for one last support letter from a professor he would work with if he received the fellowship.  He’s been asking her for it for weeks and has yet to receive it and we’re both starting to get really nervous.  It’s due on Monday and he really needs to upload it, especially since we may have to head off to the birth center at any time if I go into labor.  I find it very frustrating when people in a professional setting fail to complete their obligations in a timely manner.  If she wasn’t able to do it within the time constraints, she should have told him so! 

--- 7 ---

I won a box of Godiva chocolates in a giveaway earlier this week!  It is supposed to arrive in the mail today.  So if my baby doesn’t arrive today, at least I have another delivery to look forward to!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!