Monday, January 30, 2012

OK, I signed it.

I'd like to insulate myself but heck, I read the news all day long, so it's virtually impossible.  I signed a petition asking HHS to rescind the requirement that Catholic employers cover contraceptives for their students/employees.  How did I get there?  I read this article this morning and like almost all NYTimes articles that allow comments, I read the comments (before there were nearly 1,000.)  Like all online thingies, some comments are stupid others intelligent and that's cool.  But, there is this thing called "NYTimes Pick."  That means the New York Times gurus themselves selected your comment as particular noteworthy.  Well, they picked this comment as a standout and I didn't get it at all.

  • SR
  • Las Vegas
NYT Pick
As a Catholic I am ashamed. The Church has no right to impose its points of view on other people. More important, there is no comparable condemnation of the greed, or exploitation, or of bringing unjust wars to name a few. This shows how important is to keep a strict separation between religion and state.

I kind of agreed with the second sentence but since I hardly ever check what's being published on the Vatican website on current wars, global conflict, etc., I couldn't support this claim.  I am pretty sure the Pope condemns violent conflicts so I left this alone.  But the first sentence was just flat out outrageous.  I mean, the Obama administration is trying to force Catholic employers to cover contraceptives in their insurance plans.  And some students at Catholic schools are protesting their schools protests against the mandate.

To me it's simple.  If you disagree with Catholic teaching, don't go to a Catholic school and expect them to change their mind about their beliefs and conform to your's or Obama's.  If you want birth control, go to a secular doctor and pay for it like everybody has had to do since the 60s.  I predict like lots of people the Administration is going to lose this fight.    

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Like a Teenager?

January 27, 2012

A Blog as Therapy for Teenagers

THE GIST Blogging is therapeutic for teenagers.
THE SOURCE “The Therapeutic Value of Adolescents’ Blogging About Social-Emotional Difficulties,” by Meyran Boniel-Nissim and Azy Barak.
IN the days before the instantly pinged “OMG Where R U?,” the first words many teenagers composed during their fretful moments were “Dear Diary.” After several paragraphs of spewing onto paper adolescent angst about cafeteria slights, unreciprocated crushes and oversize thighs, the diarist often felt better.
Research has long backed the therapeutic value of diary-keeping for teenage girls and boys. But according to a new study, when teenagers detail their woes onto a blog, the therapeutic value is even greater. Blogging, it seems, can be good for you.
The study, published in the journal Psychological Services and conducted by Meyran Boniel-Nissim and Azy Barak, psychology professors at the University of Haifa, Israel, found the engagement with an online community allowed by the blog format made it more effective in relieving the writer’s social distress than a private diary would be.
To track teenagers’ experiences with blogging, the researchers randomly surveyed high school students in Israel and selected 161 of them (124 girls and 37 boys, a significant gender skew) who exhibited some level of social anxiety or stress. The teenagers, who averaged 15 years old, said they had difficult making new friends or relating to their existing friends.
And so to the Internet. The teenagers were divided into six groups. The first two groups were asked to blog about their social difficulties, with one group asked to open their posts to comments. The second two groups were asked to blog about whatever struck their adolescent fancy; again, with one group allowing comments. All four groups were told to write in their blogs at least twice a week. As a control, two more groups were told to keep either an old-fashioned print diary or to do nothing at all.
All of their blog entries were then pored over by four psychologists to determine the authors’ relative social and emotional state. In all the groups, the greatest improvement in mood occurred among those bloggers who wrote about their problems and allowed commenters to respond.
Interestingly, the commenters on the blogs were overwhelmingly supportive. “The only kind of surprise we had was that almost all comments made by readers were very positive and constructive in trying to offer support for distressed bloggers,” Dr. Barak wrote in an e-mail.
The findings may hold in the real virtual world as well. “I definitely write posts in which I talk about being overwhelmed, and it helps me to relax,” said Royar Loflin, a 17-year-old blogger from Norfolk, Va., who did not participate in the study. Though her blog, “My Life as a Young Southern Prep,” includes everything from fashion to book reviews, Royar also writes about the stress of her junior year.
“People will write in the comments, ‘I remember when I was in your shoes’ ” and ‘Don’t worry — you’ll get through the SATs!’ and it’s wonderful,” she said. “It really helps put everything into perspective.”

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I Can't Rescue You

I'll give context to this song soon.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Working it Out

The Retrouvaille weekend went great.  There were a few logistical hiccups but I don't think the participants really noticed or at least they didn't say so on the evaluations forms.  One of the most repeated comment was, "I wish we'd known about the program sooner."  I'm really grateful to God and the wonderful people who spread the word about Retrouvaille but also a little sad more people don't hear about it in their parishes.

I guess this is a good time for a question.  Have you heard about Retrouvaille from your parish or diocese, from a pulpit talk or a posting in the bulletin?

We've adopted Retrouvaille as our ministry.  It best fits our gifts and what I pray God wants us to do with our time.  Every marriage will hit a roadblock and many more will hit lots of roadblocks.  If both spouses are willing to take the necessary steps, marriages can be preserved and really thrive.  What the priest said this weekend is that God created us to be lovers, to find joy in one another and I love the fact that my husband and I have a very playful relationship and hope others can find the same.  God Bless all the couples who were with us this last weekend and I pray for their marriages to thrive!

UPDATE: I should point out that the Retrouvaille program is somewhat similar to Marriage Encounter but I find the former much more inspiring and helpful.  Retrouvaille recognizes that married people go through disillusionment and misery.  Retrouvaille is a place to find relief from the disillusionment and misery, not just to learn how to communicate or spend time alone together.  I find the program respects the sincere feelings we all have and teaches us to communicate respectfully to our spouses.  So, if I had the choice between the two, I'd go to Retrouvaille.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Don't Get Your Hopes Up

One of my favorite quotes/exchanges from Anne of Green Gables is this (forgive me, I'm doing this from memory):

Anne:  I can't help but fly on the wings of anticipation; it almost pays for the thud.
Marilla:  Well, I'd rather walk calmly along and avoid both flying and thud.

I think that pretty much sums up the TTC experience.  And my priest brought up this sentiment in confession yesterday when I broached the infertility subject.  He knows we're infertile but I try not to talk about it since the first time he told me I needed to relax.  I don't hold that comment against him, because 99.9% of all people an infertile talks to are completely and utterly ignorant and have no idea how to be sensitive.  Well, this time he told me not to get my hopes up.  Which is very interesting since most of the trouble I get myself into these days (let's be honest, wild anticipation abandon has always been my downfall) is anticipation-related.

I'm not sure how or if I'll ever not have hope we'll be pregnant one day.  This is not a genuine quest for motherhood; I just want to know if our bodies work correctly.  I'm flat out curious.  "Curiosity killed the cat."  OK, I'm not walking the virtuous road most of the time.  The charting stopped a long time ago but I make a halfhearted attempt to keep track of my cycle.  While I never know the peak day and only pay attention to the most completely obvious signs of fertility, if I even go a few days past 28 (remember, I'm the sucker who always has regular cycles) I start feeling a little bit of hope.  False hope, of course and it still makes me sad.

In other news, I'm super excited about this weekend.  We are going to be an An.gel C.ouple at a Retrouvaille session.  I'm thrilled that my husband is as excited as I am about the service opportunity and we also get the benefit of working on our own marriage which is always time well spent.  Lots of couple that go to Retrouvaille are in pain and I'm praying for healing and for God to touch the married couples we spend time with this weekend and everywhere.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Weekend Round Up

  1. The dinner party was a total success with the exception of burnt garlic bread.  The hubs did a great job scraping the black off and we ended up eating the whole thing.  Re-heating the lasagna I made Saturday morning worked.  All it took was 45 minutes on 350 degrees.  In terms of the company, it's always fun.  There are so many classic Chip and Kate moments, I can laugh easily by recalling the memories.  This time, Kate would so dominate the conversation, Chip would get very serious and say, "Kate, can I please say something for once."  "Sure," Kate would say.  Then she pause for two to three seconds and start talking again. :)
  2. MLK Day weekend has always been kind of big for me.  It's the weekend I first met Jack.  That was seventeen years ago this year.  Wow.
  3. One of the advantages of being childless (and there are lots): accepting an impromptu invitation for dinner tonight at Kate's.  Chip's out of town and DH has a meeting tonight so it's just us girls, a bottle of wine, and the jacuzzi.  
  4. The cupcakes turned out great.  They really needed to cool down before eating since the peanut butter cup in the center had a tendency to stick to the wrapper.  I just used Duncan Hines Devil's Food cake mix, Trader Joe's milk chocolate peanut butter cups, Betty Crocker Butter Cream frosting, and some Skippy crunchy peanut butter.  Make the cupcakes according to the directions, once the cups are filled up, just push the peanut butter cup into the batter.  It doesn't need to be pushed all the way down.  Let it cool completely before frosting.  I just added a bunch of peanut butter to the frosting and blend.  It's really to taste how much peanut butter to use.  Eat just one cupcake a day!
  5. I looked back at last year's January posts and yes, I did post about my co-workers talking about weight loss and exercise.  Gosh, it's annoying.  Don't they ever recall they start the year with the same gusto and fizzle out quickly.  Besides, taking up yoga will not cause you to lose weight.  Every time, they start in again on their boot camp routines, I throw on my coat and take a walk around the block.  I'm a little annoyed that my weight was higher than it has ever been since November, 123.4 lbs.  I'm trying desperately to be sub-120.  Perhaps a little less lasagna, wine, and cupcakes will do the trick?    

Friday, January 13, 2012

Dinner Party

We're having a some friends, a couple, over for dinner tomorrow.  They're not childless, they have two but those kids are grown, heck, they are my age and those kids have kids.  Thankfully, they are all out-of-state and don't get in the way of our partying!  Chip and Kate are youthful, fun, love to drink, love to dive, and love Jesus.  What's not to love about them?

The menu is lasagna, garlic bread, a salad with butter lettuce and a red wine vinaigrette.  My boss encouraged me to make the lasagna tonight since of course, it's always better the next day.  I've made the recipe dozens of times but have only reheated it for myself or the hubs in the microwave.  Making this elegant by reheating in the oven might be a bit of a challenge.  I just recently figured out what I'd do for dessert.  I'm addicted to chocolate and slightly less addicted to peanut butter.  So, I found a recipe for chocolate peanut butter cup cupcakes with peanut butter/vanilla frosting.  I'm already getting a high just thinking about it.

This photo belongs to Cheers to Happy.  Thank you, ma'am and I will update everyone on the result.  I'm bummed I'm going to miss Tebow play tomorrow since the party will be on and we don't have a TV!


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Morning in the Mountains

Some of the folks on the Peru trip have started to post their photos.  They are a little late (we're over two months out) but I guess our trek wasn't their main priority as most went onto other SA destinations and Australia and New Zealand.  We're the boring folks that can only do one high profile trip a year or even every five years! :)  But, below is a photo of our tents and they look wet so that must have been a day when it rained all night.  You can actually see me in the tent!  It looks like I was leaning out to grab my morning tea or just trying to stay inside and keep warm.  

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


I'd mentioned before that my mother was active in the Women's Movement in the 60s.  She championed and demonstrated in favor of the Equal Rights Amendment and talked to her kids about what feminism meant to her and the rest of American society.  I grew up never thinking I was less than a boy or couldn't do what boys did.  I competed with the boys in physical activities and did better than the majority.  By the time I was in high school and college, I read a lot of feminist literature and some of it pretty extreme in philosophy.  Just look up Andrea Dworkin.  I care about what rights women have around the world and am pretty aware that Western society is very unique in how women are treated and what they can do.  And I'm grateful for that.

I deliberately avoid sociology courses in college thinking that subject was soft and I'd ruin my intellectual street cred.  Ah, youth.  So, it wasn't until my late twenties did I take Sociology 101 at the local community college.  My eyes were opened.  The exact same events, actions, gestures could have very different meanings depending on what culture you're a part of.  The examples are everywhere.  Some things are small, like how you greet someone at work.  In America, we often say hello many times over the course of the day to the same person.  In Russia, the first time you see someone in the morning, you say hello.  After that, you either nod your head or totally ignore them.  It's not considered rude but I think most Americans would find that impolite if you didn't at least acknowledge your co-worker every time you saw them.

But it's often the big things in life that make a lot of difference for you depending on your culture.  Women in America and Europe have greater legal protections for women.  Your husband can't legally beat you or rape you.  That's not true in a lot of countries.  If you've been reading the news this week, you've read about rape victims being forced to marry their attackers.  If not, the woman goes to jail.  A young Afghan girl, her age was initially reported as 15 but now I'm reading 13 was beaten and tortured by her husband and her in-laws for refusing to submit to prostitution.  What's amazing about this story that a case like this would not have received any attention from Afghan police and government services but now it is.  So, hopefully this will be turning point for women's rights, human rights in Afghanistan.

I'm using an extreme example to lead up to, you guessed it, what infertility means in different parts of the world.  Thankfully, someone already did the research and published the article.  So, here it is.  If you're infertile in the US and Europe, you'll read it and feel pretty good I think about where you live relative to the rest of the world.  Thank God, I can freely move about in my community and people don't think I'll curse their family building plans.  And I can go to weddings where my presence doesn't represent an omen of barrenness.  I can go about life without children and live in relative prosperity and really greater financial prosperity because I'm not spending a lot of money on what it takes to raise a child.  The last figure I heard was $200,000 to age 18.  Anybody have the new figure?

I'm thinking about this issue now because I get the feeling the rest of the infertile blogosphere is not feeling what I am?  Sure, infertility is sometimes a devastating thought and I don't discount at all how legitimate the feelings are.  I get the feeling that I'm not fulfilling my role as a woman, as a wife and mother.  No matter how irrational I think those thoughts are as a Christian, they still exist.  You know, I'm a sinner but that doesn't discount that I believe, I know I can fulfill God's call for me.  I don't need a child to do that or even a husband. (I say that as if I had not gotten married.  I am now and regard my marriage as a ministry and a sacred calling.)  A lot of single people struggle with this but their lives are no less faithful or productive without a spouse.  Also, in my family there's just not a lot of kids to begin with so it's not strange or abnormal to not have children.  That takes a lot of pressure off of me that I have solidarity with some siblings and cousins but some amount of pressure obviously remains.

For me, I need to frame my disability in the larger scheme.  And because the emotions can be so volatile, I desperately need to provide my mind with rational ideas.  I mean, no infertile woman is an island and my life is always balanced by the lives of my husband, my family, and my friends.  I think it's something to give thanks for, that being an infertile woman in America is a much better place to be.  If I have to go through it, I'm very grateful God allowed me to suffer it here.    

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Latest Hike: South Fork Trail

It was dicey this weekend whether or not we could make the time for a 11-12 mile hike.  To my great surprise, we were able to have a few beers, play pool, and have dinner out Saturday night then go to early Mass Sunday, hang out for awhile for fellowship and then go get some coffee and then head out for the trailhead.  It was really cool to pack everything in since I'm normally stressing about sacrificing something important to go hiking.

South Fork Trail starts at South Fork Campground in the Angeles National Forest, if you're keeping geographical score here.  You know, it's January in the Los Angeles area but we're in the mountains so it's gets cold.  We checked the weather and it was mid-50s for a high and gust of wind about 25 mph.  We were the only ones on the trail which I love.  Isolation is totally my thing which is strange since I get energized by high density urban environments, too but contradiction is joy.

The trail is about 5.2 miles to Islip Saddle, a big parking lot with a couple picnic tables and bathrooms.  The hike is pretty gentle, only about 2,100 feet in elevation gain and you start near a creek/wash and trek up the canyon.  Although we've been hiking since 2007, I've never taken my iPod so this time I decided to take the plunge and it kept me happy despite the winds actually gusting at (my guess) 50 mph.  The hubs thinks it was much less, maybe 35 mph but it was like getting slapped with icicles as you came around a pass.  We made it in record time, 11.5 miles in five hours.

I used to be a pretty wimpy outdoorswoman.  But ever since Peru, I've been really tolerant about cold, crossing rushing rivers, etc.  A lot of that has to do with having all the right equipment finally.

I didn't take any pictures!  And I am loathe to steal anybody else's so I'll send you on a Google search if you're interested to see what it looks like.  

Monday, January 9, 2012


I started to write (and got about 2/3s of the way through) my latest reflection on infertility.  I think it was pretty profound with lots of discussion on cognitive dissonance and other fancy psych terms.  However, after mulling over the consequences of posting it, I've decided against it.  What am I doing?  I said I wasn't going to write about it anymore.  I long passed the point where infertile blogs are helpful to being detrimental.  This is entirely my fault.  I'm the one reading the blogs because curiosity reigns.  But if I'm going to be at peace with my situation, I need some separation.

So, I'm praying I will focus on the myriad of other issues in life that are fun and interesting to share and discuss.  Hey, it's only January 9th and we've gone on two big hikes.  Why am I not writing about that?  Proper perspective is the key to sanity and I'm going to try very hard and diversify my topics.    

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Diaper Question for Mothers!

This might seem off topic for an infertile, but if you have an infant or are around any mothers of infants, I'm very curious to know how much you spend on disposable diapers per week?  Do you have the option of using a diaper cleaning service?  If so, and you didn't, why not?  If not, would you use that service over disposable diapers?  How concerned are you about "green" issues and do you think cloth is better than disposable?

If ya'll could pass on this post to any moms, I'd really appreciate it.